Seems like other people have really cool patios with
outdoor fireplaces and decorated with perfectly placed
overflowing green leafy potted plants

Usually, the pots are old, or maybe just made to look
old, possessing a working-class patina that is more
about their need to relate to real or fictitious blue collar
roots than living a real blue-collar life

Patios well crafted, paved with thick flagstone or deep
red vintage bricks, complete with comfortable, puffy,
padded furniture sporting nondescript earth tone patterns
that encourage friends and family to get comfy and stay awhile

Some have brick pizza ovens that are insanely hot making
party pleasing fresh custom pies, usually beside statues of
nearly naked Greek Nymphs pouring wine from their chalices
into gurgling recirculating pumps

And so, it goes

But we realized that our house was built for staying inside

We decided that we needed a place big enough to gather
our tribe and celebrate whatever the calendar said we should

And the wife thought an outside area would be festive and
celebratory and fun!

So, I hung a cord of small lights below the soffit, above the
narrow back porch running along the West side of the house

It didn’t take very long, just screwing in cup hooks every few
feet, draping the wire with lights over the hooks and then plugging
them into the ancient, spider web sealed outdoor outlet

A total of 28 small, round, clear light bulbs

Now at night the glow of the lights announce to everyone on the
street that something fun is happening here

The soft white glow beckons our friends and family to gather for
food and drink and precious time together

I am convinced that laughter makes all those little lights glow
brighter, joy becoming power and electricity and wattage

Even for a moment, like a power surge that captures everyone’s
attention, making them look up from conversation

Everyone realizing how much we miss one another, the lights
flickering with exclamations of joy and snorts of laughter

Small light bulbs covered with cobwebs and the chalky grey
film left behind by winter snow and spring rain

Through it all, coated by seasons of weather, they work just fine

Now it’s an easy flick of the wrist that illuminates the narrow
area that we all long to gather in

But too often it’s an area lit without laughter. A place most days
forced to endure the time without hugs or hurrah’s, waiting for
moments worthy of recognition and the times when those who
matter most come to embrace and validate us

Letting us know just how much we truly matter

To them, and to the world

Without concern as to what is inscribed on the medal, or the trophy,
or the certificate

Because you are one of us, you are extraordinary, you are beautiful,
and you matter

No matter what

And that’s why I leave the lights on