We put June and Kermit in their stroller. It is after dinner and the world around us is turning purple from the changing night sky. Bells from a church we cannot see are tolling. Blocks away from us, families walk along the pier, watching the sun sink below the college where our family stands. Laughter from a conversation across the courtyard meets us as we cross the street. We look up to admire the grand architecture of buildings while a woman passes us on the sidewalk. June sticks her tongue out, spitting firey sounds towards the stranger; something we have not seen her do before. The woman takes the child’s unfriendly sounds as a joke and begins to laugh as we apologize with quiet smiles. Children always have a way of surprising you, I think. I encourage June to please be sweet, which she responds to by sticking her tongue out at me.
Slinking back behind the stroller in defeat, I continue my conversation with Sean, who is thankfully proficient in English and doesn’t find joy in doing the opposite of what I ask. We walk this way, in grown-up conversation, along the outskirts of downtown St Augustine. It is January and the lights from Christmas still hang on palm trees and across signs. Every inch of the town square’s canopy twinkles causing June to point up at the white lights and repeat her new favorite word, “wow” over and over and over.
“Wow is right,” both Sean and I agree as we leave the park, happening on a street lined with glowing restaurants and hungry families. June is happily swallowed by the excitement of the street, yelling an exaggerated “hi” to everyone that passes, even those that don’t seem to notice the pig-tailed stow-away beneath their eye level.
It is surreal to be here on a Thursday night, walking casually among so much history. Ahead of us, the lawn of a centuries-old fort is painted with couples holding hands, children rolling through the grass, boats sinking behind its horizon. There is nothing about this view that seems real to me.
Noticing the time and the now darkened sky, we cut between two buildings and down a long alley. Music streams from a store and June heaves Kermit into the air as if he is a ballet dancer, his long legs dangling formlessly above her. We continue this way, the three of us and a dancing frog, until we pass the Presbyterian church and are back at our car. The only thing truly special about this night was the ordinary moments amongst the midst of such an extraordinary place. We all pile into the blackened vehicle and Sean drives us a few minutes back to our rental home, leaving the magic behind us on the cobbled streets.