Too drained to climb the stairs to my apartment, I walk toward the old-fashion wooden elevator. I pause to glance at my cell phone and the elevator floats upward with a ding. I sigh.
A few minutes later, the elevator lands back in the lobby, and a little girl with light hair and bright eyes bops out. She looks to be 5 or 6 years old. A pretty woman, her mother I imagine, walks behind her. I recognize them: we rode the elevator together a few weeks back. We exchange a neighborly greeting and begin to go our separate ways when the little girl swings around: “What’s your name?”
“Nicole,” I tell her. “What’s yours?” Her mother and I smile at each other.
“Isabella,” she says softly, suddenly shy.
“Isabella. That’s right,” I say. “I remember now.” And she perks up, a smile forming.
“Do you have a kid?” Isabella questions, brow creases appearing as she tries to place me. Her mother winces at her personal inquiry and I laugh at her brash innocence, sweet boldness, and use of the word “kid.”
“No, but I have a kitty cat,” I offer. Isabella studies me for a moment, then requests my cat’s name.
I tell her, “Jespa.”
“Jessica?” she asks, uncertainly. I repeat the name and spell it for her, pointing out that it’s an unusual name. She smiles grandly and announces that she will come visit me and the cat. I tell her that sounds great. She asks if my cat is friendly, and I explain that he can be shy with strangers but once he gets comfortable he usually comes out of his shell. I wonder if she understands “comes out of his shell,” but she seems pleased to hear this.
“Let’s make a play date!”
I am amused that I have been deemed a suitable playmate. This does not completely surprise me since I joke that I am aging backward–emotionally speaking. I am more in touch now with the child-like qualities of playfulness, creativity and spontaneity than I was when I was a child.
“Sure!” I say, trying to match her enthusiasm, and add which floor I live on. She reports that Fridays are good for her (her mom explains that they are only here on weekends), and I say that’s perfect.
As I get into the elevator, I hear: “Have a great day!”
And she has, most certainly, made my day.