My tiny, six-year-old hand grasped for my father’s large one, craving the reassurance that only his enveloping strength could provide.
“Come along, Tootsie. It’s time to cross the street.”
I’d been happy, sitting behind his giant oak desk, drawing with the paper and colored map pencils that his secretary, Mrs. Baker, supplied me. Reds and browns that ordinarily traced turns in rivers and bends - hunting oil - became hearts and tree trunks in my fingertips.
Maps covering the white walls of the room cast a comforting order about things. Assurance that life could be untangled and plotted out. That chaos could be controlled.
I skipped to keep up with him, stumbling and scuffing my navy blue Buster Browns. My mother would fuss at me later.
Skyscrapers soared over my head. Traffic roared, an angry horn honked, and I grasped my father’s hand tighter. My nose burned with the hot sting of steam from the sea of cars and buses, carrying people who all looked tired.
We hurried to reach Thanksgiving Square.
Achingly bright, green grass. The lulling echo of water cascaded into a pool. Giant bronze bells towered above, chiming on the hour.
We stepped inside the hushed interior of the seashell, and I looked up into slivers of colored glass, the warm Texas sun painting a chorus of rainbows over the interior curved walls.
My worries about my shoes and my mother slid off my shoulders, swept away by the waterfall outside. I felt my chest rise and fall with each breath.
“Daddy, what is this place?”
My father inhaled and glanced up to the apex of the domed shell.
“It’s a place to remind us to be thankful. For our blessings. And for each other. And it’s a place to be quiet and find peace.”
I thought about the colored pencils, and Mrs. Baker, and Sam, our cat who had died, and my friend at school whose father didn't live with her anymore.
“I like this place, Daddy, can we come back?”
He smiled and took my hand in his again.