So, today was weird.
Today was Nels’ first day at preschool. This represents the first time since becoming a parent, ever, I have had both children at school and time to myself. That alone – and saying goodbye to my littlest one with him barely acknowledging I was leaving and knowing it was the first of many goodbyes for the two of us – was disconcerting enough. It was on the drive home in my very, very quiet truck that I thought, simply, “I miss my children,” and finally a few tears materialized.
But today was so busy (making a pie, running flyers off and delivering them, fielding calls from the school Board president with school-commencement stuff, grocery-shopping, sewing something for my brother and working on my own project, making breakfast lunch and dinner and orchestrating coffee and cookies for my sewing group, collecting supplies for my sewing group, dropping school supplies for Suse, picking up both kids, biking biking biking, taking them out for ice cream then home and making food for my family while cleaning the kitchen and Nels fell asleep and I had to call my brother to do a coffee pickup and put a sleeping Boy back in the bike trailer and bike some more…), so anyway, it was busy in that I’m-going-to-forget-something-important way. As far as I know, I didn’t forget anything. But I also didn’t get any time to process any of my feelings.
At a little after 5 PM, mere moments after Ralph burst in from his bike ride home to take our children, I checked in a the library where my sewing night was scheduled. And as I expected, no one was there. After all I had put only a single, solitary flyer up. And even as I felt sadness for a low attendance, I felt distinctly stupid for not bothering to advertise (that’s just who I am). My time to myself (ironing fabric and laying out a pair of pants for Nels) was short-lived; my friend Jennifer showed right on the money. And we proceeded to talk, catch up on the day (she’s running for HQX mayor and there’s always something to hear!), have a snack, and finally start working on her machine. At about the point she and I were getting into good sewing theory, it started to go a little crazy.
First off, a young woman came downstairs to see us and started talking to me with some degree of familiarity. I didn’t know her and was confused she had nothing to sew with; but when she introduced herself as M. – a fellow Hoquiamite blogger, artisan, and zine contributor – I was immediately flung into that good 15 minute experience of disorientation common when you meet someone you’ve exchanged many emails with and have prematurely formed a mental picture of. Despite my disorientation and quick pleasure at having an IRL meeting, the three of us fell into conversation, comparing notes on Hoquiam, Hoquiamites, and homesickness for previous climes. M. handed me a present: a brilliant little tutorial book on making sock creatures. Her boyfriend joined us and we talked a bit about local sewing machine shops (not many).
Just when I’d gotten over meeting someone new (yet known) it got a bit stranger – a full hour after my sewing tutorial was to begin, some boisterous women started trickling into the room. They had sewing machines but I could sense they weren’t there for me. They were all talking at once, mostly to each other, but one of the ringleaders finally made it clear to my tiny, overworked birdbrain that they were a group of Pagans who met regularly to sew together. They had mistakenly showed up a day earlier than their scheduled library slot. It was very odd for me to have thought I would be teaching a subject only to have it first interrupted and then discussed amongst people who had no use for me. However, I was glad to meet these women, I learned their names, I told them I’d be interested in helping them sew if they needed it tonight or in any future iteration, and I gave myself up to the increasing surrealism of the evening.
Ralph and the kids showed up at 8 o’clock to pick me up and I felt my first pang of regret. I knew my husband would be pleased to see these half dozen students of mine sewing away at full swing. Indeed, he sported a satisfied little grin as he entered the room to ask if I wanted to stay longer. Since the ladies didn’t seem very interested in my help, I asked Ralph to load up my sewing materials and invited Jen over for peach pie and despite her busy schedule and state of minor sleep deprivation she agreed.
As Jen and I laughed in the car ride to my house, I felt such gladness that I’d moved back. As with a few other friends here I was finding my relationship with familiars from my childhood would not be formed solely of fond memories and anecdotal brief get-togethers but instead a full continuum of life experience as it unfolds in the present. Jen and I had just spoken on the phone days earlier and before that, only a few days before; our children were playing together these days, and our lives were starting to know of one another with the ease and fellowship of a comfortable reunion.
We got to my house and my children enfolded Jen in greetings and hugs (she is the only person besides Ralph and I who can understand every word Nels utters) and then, finally, the coup de grace – the largest spider I have ever seen in my life, clutching itself menacingly on my kitchen floor and throwing long shadows (I am not shitting you how big this thing is; my brother is currently on his way over to bear witness). My daughter made instant and expert capture, a few of us shook off our revulsion, I served the pie, and we laughed some more.
And with the evening drawing to a close and a very full day spent, I say goodnight.