My lap top tells me that it’s 12:17 AM. Everyone is, thankfully I might add, sleeping. I’m sitting in my Dad’s recliner in the living room of my parents house. When I stop typing and listen I hear my ears ringing, thanks to way too many loud music events that I was a part of in my 20s, I hear the bugs sawing their legs in rhythm with the clock ticking, and a few creeks of the house moaning in the night from the heat of the day.
My daughter is asleep in the room I grew up in. She is sleeping in the same bed I did for my entire life spent in this house. It makes me sentimental. Peter put her to bed tonight, like he has most every night for the past four months since Noah’s arrival. Zoe has turned into a full on Daddy’s girl. If she wakes in the night she cries for Daddy and not Momma. Which, I’ll admit, makes my heart zing just a bit. I’m not available for her as much as I was when I only had her. Noah, who still nurses every two hours on most days, keeps me really … not busy, but … occupied, my hands are generally filled with his chubby, demanding, but oh-so-loving body. I have to make a very strong effort to get quality time with Zoe.
Which now is spent on the floor of my parents living room, playing with her brightly colored lego blocks while Noah sits in my lap. She repeats the phrase, “We need four walls to make a house, Mom.” Something I said to her the first time we made a lego house together, and now she says it to me every time we play legos. Four walls, indeed.
We are in Arkansas. We are in transition, somewhere between almost there and not quite yet.
We packed up our house and moved our belongings into a trailer truck that drove away from our Denton address on Wednesday, August 3, three weeks ago exactly. We loaded every single last scrap that we own into a truck’s trailer headed for Chicago. I have no idea how it happened, packing up - with all my crying, and wandering through old pictures and letters, and the stress of planning it all, and feeding my baby and entertaining my pre-schooler. If it weren’t for the help of our friends, Marissa, Amanda, Katie, Kristen and Lindy – as well as Marissa’s and Amanda’s husbands we would have never managed to pack up our home.
At the end of our last day in Denton, a dreadfully hot day in Texas, 108 degrees - too hot for the AC to keep up, Peter and I stood, holding our children in our arms, inside our empty home. The home that we lived in for almost three years, the home that we brought ourselves to after living in Israel, the home that we brought our tiny newborn children to, the home where we discovered our better selves and shed our worst moments in, this home with its four walls covered in memories, was empty. Bone bare and thread dry.
We stood there like travel weary, wanderlust(y) hitch hikers on the side of the road waiting for our next ride. Except this side of the road is our home, and our home is an empty shell. Our future does not fit inside these four walls. We outgrew our present. I stood there trying not to cry. Sweat pouring down my face, dirt under my nails. A suitcase by my foot. Noah perched on my hip. Peter holding my hand and Nutmeg staring at us. I wasn’t going to do this, I remind myself. I can’t get emotional. Not right now. There isn’t the energy for this much feeling. I must just keep moving forward. Without. Within. Without.
I’m sentimental. As you can see.
It’s been the most exhausting season of my soul so far. Truly. I’ve just sat here and reread that sentence about ten different times trying to make sure that statement is true, and I’m pretty sure it is.
And now, here we are in Arkansas, waiting for the rest of the story.
Peter leaves for Chicago on Sunday (today is Wednesday) to start grad school. Zoe, Noah and I will stay in Arkansas with my parents. Peter will temporarily live with friends. School starts on the 31st of August (his birthday). Once loan money disburses and Peter finds us a rental unit that’s close enough to the train and big enough for all four of us and a dog, we will make our way to Chicago. Our reunion will likely be the end of September.
I’m not excited about his leaving. I remind myself that I’ve been without Peter before. In fact, I did it for two months, when Peter went to Denton and I stayed in Israel. In those two months, Peter found a job, bought a car, located a home for us and enrolled in school. I arrived in Denton 26 weeks pregnant on November 4th, 2008 to our tiny, little home with its bare white walls and our mattress on the floor surrounded by boxes filled with our dishes.
Now it seems the story repeats itself, except this time it’s not just me who has to be without Peter, it’s Zoe and Noah too. I think of how much Zoe is going to miss her Daddy and the same for Peter. I wonder if she’ll be okay when she wakes up at night and cries for Daddy and it’s me that comes to her. I’m not sure how she’ll manage without him. What I mean is … I’m not sure how I’ll manage without him.
This is where we are. I can’t imagine the future right now because I’m treading water. Focused on the present.
Tonight, Stevie Wonder’s, I Just Called To Say I Love You, started playing on the radio, (the second time today). I turned up the volume and Peter and I playfully danced together in the middle of the living room. Zoe saw us, smiled and laughed and came running over. She hugged my leg and danced with Peter and me while Noah vocalized in the pack-n-play. I joked to Zoe saying, “This is something Daddy is going to be doing quite a bit of soon. Calling to say I love you.”
While Peter and I dance in the living room of my childhood home, for a tiny second, my mind stops treading water long enough to think about what all of this change has brought us. I smile into Peter’s neck and touch my daughter’s hair and look at my son. If it takes four walls to make a house, then the four of us are the walls to our home – where ever we are. We make the best house, ever.