Our Christmas tree will stay up for a little while longer, not because we keep it lit through any day in particular, but because I am refusing to pack everything away just yet. I say it's because lugging storage boxes to and from the attic is awkward and trying, but really it's because I find myself absolutely dependent upon tiny multicolored lights glowing against haphazardly placed shatterproof ornaments.
It's Thanksgiving and the house is full, both of people and the smell of roasted turkey. We loll back in our seats in that moment between being too full to move but too tempted by seconds (okay, thirds) to relinquish our half-empty plates.
I'm having a tough time lately. And by lately, I mean always. I can't remember a time that wasn't tough. That I didn't struggle.
I do well sometimes. So well that even I don't believe that I'm on a tightrope of depression and anxiety. I feel like I'm walking that line so perfectly, so capably, that I am keeping my thoughts of doom and wrongness away. But after awhile, in they seep and I realize they've always been there. I've just been good at ignoring them. Ignoring the tightrope. The trepidation.
The strawberries have going berserk in the front yard. The bean plant I unceremoniously ripped from one back yard container garden survived its relocation to the front yard as well and one long reaching vine climbs happily up a shepherd's hook I'd been keeping in my I swear I'm going to do something with that pile for years.
This morning I asked my sister if it was okay to have hot dogs and saimin for dinner tonight. It's Dad's birthday so we're skipping our usual Tuesday fare of carnitas and fresh-made tortillas pressed by Iliana's busy little hands. I know that changing the menu isn't a big deal, but today it might be. I mean, it is. After all, this is Dad that we're talking about.
Already a legend before I met him on the first day of my senior year Drama class, Mr. Bright was the kind of teacher every teenager should be privileged enough to have at least once in their young lives. Demanding, encouraging, and above all filled with a genuine love of his craft and his students, he made fifth period a retreat for me during a long, difficult year.
I am excited about the trip, but still I am angry. Taking my children home is important to me, but this is not just a homecoming. It is a fact finding mission. One I resent having to make.
We fly on Tuesday and are in Target on Saturday to find things to entertain the children on the plane. The youngest gets activity books and the oldest gets novels. I am not getting anything because I already have three non-fiction titles packed away. I don't expect to actually read them, of course. After all, this is traveling with children.
We get out of the car and Ian carries Iliana across the parking lot, grateful she's not actually asleep. The drive to Shoreline is just long enough to make her drowsy and she's at the stage where a nap will ruin an already tenuous bedtime; afternoon errands like this are always a gamble.
“See you next year!” we call to one another, jittery with equal parts Christmas break excitement and Christmas party sugar. I still laugh really hard at the joke, though I am becoming aware that the other girls are not laughing quite as much. We're in seventh grade, after all. We are supposed to be growing up, our senses of humor with us. Or something.
I hurried up the stairs, knowing Ian was already running a little late. He is the one to get up with the kids in the morning, ushering Jonas off to high school in one piece before settling in for good morning cuddles with Iliana. They zone out on the couch together while I make my Walking Dead way out of bed. Eventually.
(It's pretty damn cool to spend your first waking moments knowing what a great choice you made in a husband.)
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