My legs are tucked up under me. Little aches and pains inform me I will be stiff tomorrow. I look forward to it. The temperatures soared above ninety today, but that didn’t hold me back from the zoo. 

I ran my hand over the velvet backs of stingrays, and laughed when they lined up for more caresses. A young giraffe strolled over and looked right in my eyes while I cooed encouragement. I walked amongst butterflies. Watched a brave cardinal steal pieces of funnel cake right off a little girl’s plate. Gasped at the vivid green color of of a pit viper. Was given extra ice cream by the girl at the treat stand. I saw hyenas and painted dogs eat their breakfasts of meat. A seal raised its head out of the water and spun, delighting a family.

I walked until sweat gathered in the small of my back. Brushed my bangs from my damp forehead. Finally, the heat grew so oppressive that even with water, I knew it was time to go.

Lunch was in a blessedly cool restaurant, then it was time for the bookstore. I had to collect myself in the parking lot before I went inside. I had started crying. I was full. Full of food, full of joy and so much gratitude I couldn’t hold it in. I was in love with my body, for working so hard, for carrying me around in the heat. I was in love with the animals I’d seen. With myself for never losing that childlike wonder. And yes, as I sat there, feeling good and strong and beautiful, I was even in love with humanity. 

I took a deep breath. Closed my eyes. Felt more tears slide down my cheeks. Leaned into that sun-bright feeling. Whispered, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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