Too Long

Today I returned from a three and a half day long trip to the city. I left on Thursday, by myself, feeling free as a bird. The courts had given me back my driving privilege and I flew down the road (under the speed limit) through green trees and the golden hills of late summer in California. I sang and prayed and had so much solitude I could burst with happiness.

The drive home was a little different. The four hours getting home seemed to take about a year and two months.

It's funny, now that I have kids. I'm not completely free anymore. I mean, I can leave, but I'm connected, in an almost physical way, to these two little people who can't even dress themselves yet. (Although Kid A has the ability, as he showed one night when he got himself out of his pyjamas, dressed himself perfectly, undies, sandals and all, and then showed up at the cabin next door, having somehow arrived in total darkness, when everyone was having a goodbye party for a couple of our friends. Talk about a heart attack. When we ask him to dress himself, though, he suddenly has a really hard time remembering which limb goes where. "I can't get this over my bum," he says pitifully, as he stands in the middle of the room with two legs through one tiny leg hole in his undies.) I mean, kids are really little, but they occupy a really big space in my life.

Chinua and I were talking about this the other day. (We're the philosopher-type parents. Our children will probably hate us for it one day, when they're teenagers.) "The thing about kids," I said, "is that they are so much. There's not a lot of space around them, and it's exhausting, but so worth it." And what I learn, from being away, is that now that they take up so much space in me, there's not tons of room for a whole lot else. It actually leaves me wondering what else there was, before.

I can hang with it, though, for a few days. I really like being by myself, visiting friends and having uninterrupted conversations. I even slept in until 10:00 for the first time in four years. I eat food when it's hot, eat food without sharing, and take a shower whenever I want. I sit around. I get work done, in record time. It's amazing really. I can even try to have a few conversations that don't include things that the husband I adore thinks or says, or funny things that my kids do. Okay, maybe I can only last a few minutes in conversation without doing this, but I don't think I completely bore my single friends. This reminds me of a funny thing. Some friends and I were sitting around talking, and somehow I brought up the fact that Jed and Kid A like to pee through each other's pee streams, if they are peeing outside. See, even writing that down makes me realize how completely hopeless I am in conversation now, not that I was ever so wonderfully social. But, one of the friends there (a guy) said, "Oh yeah! Crossies! That was so fun, when we were kids." It was stupefying, really. We were like, "You mean there's a name for that?" It led to a nice discussion about pee, including bed wetting.

But, back to the point. I can only hang for a few days. This time I accidentally overstayed, and the result was that I missed them so much that I was almost physically ill. I almost threw up. Well, no, I didn't, but I felt like I could. (It also could have been partially from the fact that I was up all night after drinking about a tablespoon of coffee. I'm serious, too, it was a sample at Trader Joe's and I couldn't resist. That's how sensitive I am to caffeine. It's like a special anxiety drug for me. Not good at all.) I couldn't think about them. I'd drive along and think about YaYa's cheeks and her little duck lips and almost start crying. And I haven't even mentioned here, maybe because it's not quite as gut-wrenching of an emotion, that I really am not a fan of spending a lot of time away from Chinua. Just enough for me to remember what it's like not to see him; then it's time to come back. So, there was Chinua-missing and kid-missing, and oh, it was so good to get home and see how happy they were to see me.

I have so much to be thankful for. This is what I'll concentrate on while I'm schlepping our wet stinky laundry that Chinua forgot to put on the line back to the washer to hopefully be restored to its former glory.