Cars lined the street leading to the brick entrance. Cars snaked in a non-moving line towards the parking garage. Cars crawled through the parking lot, waiting for tired legs to pick a car on their way out of the zoo.
We went anyway.
Before we moved, our zoo was minutes away. The kids barely had time to argue about what song to listen to at maximum volume before we turned into the parking lot.
The drive is longer now, and Dylan fell asleep and missed the circling of the parking lot. Joy filled his voice when he opened his eyes to the Detroit Zoo water tower.
“We’re here! That didn’t take long at all!”
Unable to contain her annoyance at the parking lot bingo we’d just played, Abbey reassured him that yes, actually, it had taken a long time. Undeterred, he plucked her sunglasses from the upholder when she forget them in her haste to pop out of the car.
My fingers felt strange, clicking the locks on the car without pulling out a stroller. Water bottles and a couple of small snacks hid in my tote, but basically the three of us wandered unencumbered. Our fingers latched together as we walked, but they know now how to slip between groups, quiet “excuse me”s as they make their way towards the animals we’ve talked about seeing.
We’ve been treading these paths since they were babies, since Abbey wore sunbonnets and bucket hats, and I pointed to things she didn’t really seem to see. Now their eyes catch things my wandering mind might miss: moved exhibits and tiny frogs tucked under leaves in the humid amphibian house.
We had a conversation about Winky and Wanda, the elephants who used to live at the zoo, instead of simply climbing on the elephant statue between checking out the rhinos and hurrying towards the giraffes. He tired of the reasons the elephants had to leave, but her eyes searched mine, unsure if she’s understanding that the elephants needed something more than a single friend, more than the acre of land provided to them.
Big seems huge to her.
She’s just learning about how to spread out across her world, and I paused for just a moment to wonder when she’ll realize that one day she will need more than our family’s orbit to realize her dreams.
For that day, though, we walked together, glad we waited for a spot at the zoo.
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