What It’s Like to Be Away. And Always Headed Home.
Apr 15 2014
I borrowed two small, rolling suitcases from my youngest children today because their suitcases are the newest in the family and so have things like working zippers and attached wheels and retractable handles that don’t get stuck in the half-upright position, passively-aggressively recalcitrant, like the handle on my suitcase which feels it ought to be treated with more deference and less verbal abuse in its old age.
Of course, my children don’t want me to use their suitcases because I’m sure to ruin them, and, given the tattered remains of mine, I don’t completely blame them for their concern. I tried to convince them I should be able to borrow the suitcases since I paid for them originally, but the children, who are smart, and also overly mouthy like their mother, countered that giving someone a gift doesn’t imply unlimited borrowing rights or takesy-backsies in the future, a lesson I now regret teaching them as toddlers.
So I’m technically renting two kids’ suitcases for $1 each and thanking my lucky stars they haven’t yet learned to up-sell me on optional insurance or to hold my credit card for incidentals, although they’ve each demanded a certain number of gummy worm futures, so please don’t worry for them too, too much.
Anyway, my point is I left home for four nights, from now through Easter Eve, and I feel the usual mix of bone-deep relief for an opportunity to rest, nearly uncontrollable glee at the idea of being responsible for only myself, relentless dread, knowing, as always and without merit, that something horrible will happen to my people in my absence, and pathetic and desperate longing for the family I couldn’t wait to leave. The push-me pull-you of mothering, I know. I love it. I hate it. I love it. I don’t.
Which is why I’m sitting alone at the moment in a bar in a hotel where there’s a very large, very loud conference of people named things like Emmett Hubert and Mandy Smith which I know because they’re wearing nametags peeling around the edges like the bark of the birch trees outside the bar windows, and they’re all young and trendy and wearing skinny jeans and casually holding wine glasses without spilling on anyone. None of them look as lost and as found as I feel, proof positive looks can’t be trusted.
I’m grateful – truly – for this time away to breathe and think and read books that are bad for my mind and good for my heart and possibly draft parts of my own, but I find myself missing my kids’ terrible teeth more than I ever thought possible when I used to have only a baby and spent so much time feeling sad for the moms whose kids were already gangly and awkward. I didn’t know yet that those kids were also gorgeous and awesome.
Greg held my hand in the driveway before I left and kissed me on the mouth and bent over to whisper how much he’ll miss me, which sounded like this, “You only have a small data plan on your phone, so you have to come home in 5 days or I will cancel the hell out of that thing.” Which is how I know he loves me.
This is Springtime and Almost Easter, full of death and life and empty tombs in the in-between time when the contents have gone missing and haven’t yet been found. It’s the season of long nights growing shorter, and, after longer than we’d prefer, resurrection and rebirth which, it turns out, we must repeat over and over and over again. And so I’m away, on the lookout for rebirth and also, somehow, at the same time, always, always, always headed home.