My family and I were in Chicago to spend time with my uncle and his family. We met in the Water Tower Place one cold, snowy December evening. We exchange our “Hello’s” and continue conversation as we enter the restaurant, foodlife, and receive our specialized credit cards for orderings. We find a table in the back and I take my cousins, Patrick, age 10, and Sean, age 7, as our group disperses to voyage around the fairly large restaurant to find the food they prefer. They had almost every food available for their customers. There had a station for pizza, a station for pasta, a station for barbeque, a station for soup, and so on. I decide that I’m in the mood for a creamy fettuccine alfredo. Patrick and Sean both want some pasta with marinara sauce. I help Sean order his food and we all slide our “credit cards” to mark what we’ve order. Sean and Patrick challenged each other to a race to see who can get their drink and return to the table faster. Hearing the enthusiasm when they ask me to join in, I couldn’t refuse. We all rush with our food trays and fill up and cups at the soda fountain and race back to our table. I almost drop my food and I didn’t care.
Patrick won the race, followed by Sean and me. We begin to eat our food and play around, tossing noodles at each other and sprinkling salt in each other’s food when they weren’t looking and laughing loudly throughout it all. My dad wants to take a group picture of everyone around the table and Patrick, Sean, and I show the camera our mouths filled with half chewed pasta and sauce and laugh when my dad looks at the picture and realizes our childish sabotage of the family picture.
The people at the table next to us keep looking over at my cousins and me and I hear them mocking the things we say and do and I am not offended. In fact, I hardly notice them over all the fun I was having with my cousins.
I believe in the innocence of joy. A joy that cannot be stopped until the ones enjoying it say it’s done. I believe that the beauty of this joy is in the fact that when it is in progress all hardship and strife are temporarily nonexistent. They is no hatred, pain, or crying except in crying tears of joy. I believe that this is a sanctuary for lost souls and broken spirits. This innocent joy is found not only in children but people of all ages, genders, and races; joy is universal and for this reason it is beautiful.
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