The weekend trip my husband is taking to his parents’ house has snuck upon me. Suddenly it is here: my husband is packing up instead of taking our Friday date with me. I kiss my daughter goodbye in the front seat of the pickup truck, plying coloring books and her favorite toy lizard into her hands. I hold my husband and breathe him in. I can’t bear to watch them drive off; I will drive off first. My son plays inside with his Friday night babysitter and I, unsure of what to do with myself, head uptown.
I am unsettled, jittery. My two dear ones will be in a car over a mountain pass for about seven hours. I am always wanting “me time” but now that it is here, it is ringing in my ears and I can’t quiet it. I stand with the other Friday night losers in front of the New Releases section at the video store. I rent two titles; nothing complicated, dark, sexy, or depressing. Easy fare. I head downtown for Japanese takeout and a coffee. I place my dinner order then wander out on the sidewalk, unable to stand the thought of loitering in the restaurant alone, hands empty of those to hold. Coffee in hand, I walk.
Halfway down the block to peek in the fabric shop window I recognize it; fear. I am afraid if I let them go, and let myself be entirely separate, I will lose them. I will be punished for my lack of vigilance, my selfishness in being Just Me again, if only for an evening.
Naming the disquiet helps me. I know it; I am vulnerable. There is nothing I can do but release them. I will probably never be over those creepy, unsettling thoughts of car crashes or sudden illness. But I can never truly own them anyway. For a brief moment it is unbearable that I should love three beings so very much.
A couple hours later and I have returned and taken the evening bath with my son, wrapped him in PJs and quilts for bed. He misses his father. He cries in his bedroom, rattled at the loss of his daddy-bedtime routine. I miss it too.
The phone rings and I snatch it up. It’s a phone company survey. It could be my life this way; enough lonliness to fill up each and every evening.