My family is down to our van only, having left our pickup truck at my parents’ two weeks ago. Yesterday my husband finds out he has to take a trip to his Bremerton office; ergo, I am without a family vehicle today. This morning at Sophie’s preschool drop-off Ralph asks my friend Abbi if she’ll not only pick up my oldest child at school dismissal, but also journey uptown to pick Nels and I up from our last day at Playschool. Which of course, being Abbi, she does.
At 11:30 outside the Playschool my son sees her van and smiles: “Abbi’s going to get me with the van!” (why that child likes it so rough, I have no idea). She and I pack up fourth carseat, fourth child, my Playschool journal and goodbye-flowers; head to the bakery to pick up a few hearth rolls to keep kids quiet and drive out to Hadlock for a coffee. Our conversation is familiar and full of laughter; our handling of and reaction to the four children is in sync more so than with our own husbands. We get our matching coffee drinks and pass out hot chocolates to children. Our children: “I want a coffee bean,” “Give me whip cream! I need whip cream!” I ask Abbi, “Who raised these spoiled children, anyway?” and we laugh.
Driving home in the passenger seat my chauffeur and friend takes a couple wrong turns: “I am having trouble taking you back home,” she says and I think to myself I am having trouble, too. I am talking and I am cheerful but I also feel a deep sense of loss. My life is going to change and I am so damn sad. Why do we have these people in our lives only to one day sever what we have come to cherish with them? How can I be a friend to someone from miles away? How can they be part of my family if I have taken my family from them? I have come to rely on and enjoy my rituals in my community; my community cries out against my leaving. They are a part of me intertwined with married life and motherhood. Who will I be without them?
I don’t know how to tell my friends of the places they occupy within me. Mostly I don’t even want to tell them, because in the telling the truth becomes clumsy and inaccurate. For me, something larger is lost if I try to express it. I think they know they are loved as much as I know they love me. My feelings aren’t best expressed in sentimental cards or hugs and kisses but rather this: those I care most about I take great care to let them know who I really am. The most pure form and the deepest, calmest place within me.
Back at my house I shuttle my kids inside and get a wet rag to wipe down a chocolate spill in Abbi’s van. We discuss a park trip for the children later, if the weather gets a little less damn cold. Tiny, humble rituals meaningless but meaningful that I will soon have robbed myself of.