It was Sunday and I had the kids and my parents in the car. They’d just spent the weekend visiting and we were dropping them off at South Station so that they could catch their bus back to NYC. We’d just given hugs and kisses and were waving as I pulled away from the curb and Auric started to whimper and say in a heartbreaking quiver, “I miss BaBa…” which is his name for my dad. And then I said, “It’s okay. Don’t cry. We’ll see them in September. When we say goodbye to Cambridge, we’ll get on a plane and visit Chicago…” As the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew I’d not put the right spin on this idea. And of course, before I could get another word out, Thora, in a panicked voice said, “I don’t want to say goodbye to Cambridge! I love Cambridge! I don’t want to leave!” Crap.
I tried to pull her back from the edge of her fear. “But what about our adventure to New Zealand?” She sighed a frustrated sigh and said, “Okay! We can move to New Zealand! And live there for awhile. But then I want to move back to Cambridge. Unless my friends have moved away. Then I want to move where they’ve moved.” Miraculously, in the following few minutes, as I navigated the car back to Cambridge, I tried to steer our conversation back towards the idea of the Big Adventure. Finally, she turned down what ended up being a mildly amusing avenue of thought in which she explored the idea of choosing her own travel plans when she is 18. (How did she figure out the connection between being 18 and being an adult?!?) She asked if she and her brother could go on a trip by themselves when they are 18 and 22, the thought of which strikes equal parts fear and pride in my heart. Unbelievably, I found myself in a discussion with my 5 year-old about the different ways she will have to show us during her teenage years that she is ready to take her first trip alone. I guess this is what happens when you raise a kid to love travel as much as you do. They begin planning their flight.
I seem to be putting a positive spin on our departure to myself as I am to Thora. Privately, I’m a ridiculously sappy person, embarrassingly so. I cried no less than 5 times when watching the recent Muppet movie. And CONTINUE to do so when we watch the dvd at home. And the Olympics? Surely I must spend more time crying, than not crying.
But somehow I’ve managed to deny my emotions when it comes to the imminent departure from my beloved friends and the wonderful life we’ve made here. I continuously remind myself how awesome this adventure will be, how rewarding it will be in the long term, how we are NOT crazy, but brave and bold and about to start an exciting chapter. I’m blinding myself with a glare of positivity, so that even when I close my eyes, I see its sunspots.
There was a moment the other day, as I was walking down the street to pick up our son at preschool, when somehow the enormity of this move fell heavy on my chest and I had to take a big gulp of air to catch my breath. With all the delays and waiting and uncertainty, the move mostly feels surreal, like something that will continue to inch out of our reach despite each day taking us another stride towards the departure. We don’t have tenants set to move in. We don’t have airfare to take us away. We don’t have visas. Will this really happen? But in that moment, alone with my thoughts as I walked to my son’s preschool, what had been hiding in plain view suddenly revealed itself, somehow startling me. Our Time Here Is Coming To An Undeniable End.
In a dream I had the other night, I stood in the park across the street from our house. In my dream, the renovation was practically complete. And in my dream, I couldn’t stop sobbing. In my real life, I haven’t shed a real tear for the move. There have been brief moments, very recently, when something sends a wave of sadness over me. I was cleaning out a basket that has accumulated a year’s worth of odd papers and saw an old photo of Thora and her friend Zach. I was overcome. But the tears didn’t fall. Somehow, the person who can’t keep from crying at commercials or during Olympic medal ceremonies, somehow this person has shut down the emotion for this departure. It will rupture. There is no doubt about this. But for now, I’m strangely someone else. For the moment, I only cry in my dreams.