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Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
It has been a very short trip. I arrived on Friday afternoon and leave at 4:30 today. My father is not feeling well, recovering from two surgeries this summer. All of our running around yesterday wore him out, so we will likely stay close to home until it is time to deliver me to the airport. (Likely 2.75 hours early, which is my father's style, he is even more neurotic than I am when it comes to -God forbid- missing a flight.) But that is okay. I like DIA. And DIA without children, it's like a vacation in and of itself. Read a little People Magazine, eat a little TCBY, I'll be okay.
So rather than give you the blow by blow of my vacation, here are the highlights:
- I boarded my first flight sans children in I believe four years. Amazing how easy air travel is without squirmy little tyrants to look after. One small suitcase, tucked neatly in the overhead bin. My purse under the seat in front of me, book in my lap. No diaper bag. No arsenal of snacks. No spilt milk. No "I have to pee" just as the Pilot issues the fasten seat belts command. Bliss. I sat for the first 1.5 hours peacefully reading my novel, until miss chatter box, a 20-something tattoo covered rebel starts babbling endlessly. "You look great" "For 36" she informs me after I tell her my age. Great. Thanks a whole-heck-of-a lot. Bimbo.
- I took the train on the George Town Loop. Funny how, now as a visitor I am doing all of the touristy things that I never experienced during my eight years of actually living in Colorado. It was breathtaking. Simply beautiful. The train ran a short loop through the mountains over Clear Creek. The sun warmed my vitamin D deprived shoulders and the mountain air felt clean and good. After the ride and a quick lunch at a quaint tea house in Silver Plume, we headed to Erie, for my nephew Kristoff's birthday party. We drove the familiar route, past George Town, Idaho Springs, Evergreen, the drive we once took on a regular basis, usually with our feet stuffed into hiking shoes, and the dog in back. I felt a strong surge of nastolgia and longing. Why did we have to move away? When can we come home for good?
- I attended my nephew Kristoff's first birthday party. I must say Kristoff is truly a happy, beautiful rolly-poly one year old. I was thrilled to be there. Of course my sister's three year son, Finn, was also there, and be still my heart, referred to me as "Auntie Rachel". For some reason this warmed my heart until I thought it might just boil over. Auntie Rachel. I am someones Aunt.
- One of the guests at the party was my sister's grade school friend, Danielle. I had not set eyes on her in years and yet, she looked almost exactly the same, only taller. She confessed some things that my sister never shared with me. She told me how she and my sister used to sneak in my bedroom and go through my belongings, thinking that I was cool. Cool? But I thought they dispised me. After all I was a goody-two-shoes who never smoked weed. Go figure. She remembered the care package I put together for Erica when she was graduating from high school and heading off to Boulder for college. I could hardly believe it. She told me she was jealous of that gift, how she had wished she had an older sister like me. Flabbergasted. At least I impressed someone. Thank you Danielle, for making my day. And, don't worry sis, I know you have grown to love me.
So I am finishing this post back in my Berkeley living room, eating salad at 9:00, boys tucked in bed, dog at my feet. The weekend now gone, and I feel sad knowing that the next time I set foot on Denver soil it will be a different season. Instead of getting easier, over the past few months in particular, it feels as if it is getting harder.
I know the feeling will fade over the next few days, as the recent events turn to memory and I resume my daily activities. The boys start preschool tomorrow. I have work. My in laws arrive for a (a-hem) ten day visit on Friday. Life-goes on.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
That novel inspired this post about my own "brush with death" fourteen years ago, in the autumn of 1996.
I graduated from college that May. My serious boyfriend, who would later earn the title of "husband" took a short term position writing for the local paper in Monroe, a small town about 45 minutes outside of Madison. He got his very first apartment of his own just blocks away from the local watering hole. I relished our time together there, playing house, grocery shopping, cooking meals , jogging through the small town streets and partying with the locals.
I lived with my parents. I worked a temporary clerical position at an insurance company while saving funds for our upcoming European adventure.
I drove my parents boxy blue Volvo to and from Monroe frequently. I spent weekends and occasional weeknights in Monroe, commuting in before and after work. I didn't mind the drive, not one bit. In fact I liked the time to myself. I would pop in one of my carefully crafted "mix tapes" (yes, this was before Ipods and play-lists) and jam out as I enjoyed the Wisconsin scenery (cows).
I believe it was a Sunday, but my memory all of these years later is fuzzy. I remember a last minute workout on the treadmill in my parent's basement, leaving me sweaty. Noticing the time, I decide to skip the shower. I throw my things together in a duffel bag and jump into the Volvo for the drive. Evening falling. Twilight. I had no reason to fear the the fading sky.
I'm listing to Toni Braxton. "Unbreak My Heart". Night falling. Two lane highway. I'm singing along . A bend in the road leads to something blurry ahead. A paper bag? I barely break. Slow motion. Impact. Shear force. Jolting. Shattering glass. This is it. This is how people die. Over in seconds. The car screeches to a halt. I pat myself down from the top of my head to my knees. I look at my hands. Small specks of blood. From where? Am I okay? I feel fine. I'm fine.
From there it is a blur of flashing lights and questions. What happened? What is your name? Did you lose consciousness? Does your neck hurt? Do you know the date? Is there someone we should call?
I am fine I tell them, just fine.
They insist on a stretcher. I worry that I should have taken a shower. I must smell. I am strapped down in a a neck brace. Do they think I was drunk? I hadn't had a drop to drink. But what did I hit? I am sent to the hospital via ambulance. X-rays. Insurance cards. The damn neck brace, won't they please take it off?
My boyfriend arrives. "What happened?, What did you hit?" He asks.
I have no idea. It looked like a paper bag.
The doctors give me the green light to go home. The blood was merely from my tongue which I bit during the accident, just a normal reflex the nurse informs me.
I am set home with some warnings. I am told that my whole body will ache by morning. I am told that I will have a black eye. I am told that I was lucky. My sturdy car, my seat belt, my puffy Wisconsin-style winter jacket all protected me.
I feel stunned. My boyfriend takes me home to the apartment. Eventually I fall asleep. When I awake I expect to feel stiff and sore, but I feel perfectly fine.
By the next evening, as the doctor promised a dark purple bruise starts to spread across my eye until finally it nearly swells shut. For the next two weeks I wear the badge of survival on my face and ponder the purpose of styling my hair each morning. What was the point? I looked completely disfigured.
The day after the accident my stepfather took me to the auto shop to collect my belongings from the totaled Volvo. I was told that the car actually rolled over. I had no idea. I saw the dent in the roof of the car. The paint scraped off the doors. A cat sat in the back seat of the car, eating a sandwich from my duffel bag. I worried that he would cut his paws on the pieces of glass from the smashed windshield.
The police informed me that I had hit a tractor trailer tire that had fallen off the back of someones truck. They found it in a field near the accident site. They did not ticket me. They told me that it wasn't my fault.
Perhaps not. But it is easier to think that it might have been avoided. If I had seen it sooner, if I had identified the object for what it was, a heavy tire, and not a weightless grocery bag. If I had breaked. It never would have happened.
In the weeks that followed the accident I was left with a feeling that I can now identify as anxiety. I felt jittery, a constant sensation of butterflies flitting around in my stomach. I couldn't eat. I lost weight. I had no car, so I saw my boyfriend less, but at least I avoided driving.
The accident has had a lasting impact on my life. To this day I fear night driving. To this day I sometimes dream about glass shattering in slow motion. The truth is, we are physically fragile. We take risks every single day. No one knows when a drunk might plow into us and snatch away the life of our loved ones, or when you might come around a bend in the road to find something unexpected that can turn your life upside down .
But life marches on. We get back behind the wheel because what is the alternative? Life is full of risks and danger, and things outside of our control. Our only choice is to keep going, buckle up and hope for the best.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
- Teeth. Each child must have a Spiderman toothbrush. Blue for Evan. Red for Zack.
- Children carefully select pajamas (usually insisting on the filthy ones in the hamper) and dress. *Special note, since Zachary is apparently going to wet his bed into adolescence, a pull up is required.
- Each child selects a book. Mommy gently guides away from the three chapter Cars book and the impossibly long Red Fish Blue Fish, and encourages more palatable reading.
- Evening entertainment is provided. Story time, then 3 lullabies by mama.
- Each child retrieves their "guys" for bedtime. For Zachary this means Nooderz the Kangaroo, Mr. Brown Doggie and Bob Bear. Evan has, Kangaroo (formally known as 9910), Valentine's Day Doggie, each of his identical polar bears and his usually dirty beat up Ikea pillow.
- Good night kisses.
- Lights Off, Ipod on-(Dan Zane's "Night Time" )
Last night's critical mistakes:
- Zachary dressed himself, I failed to notice the lack of pull up.
- Evan's Kangaroo (formerly known as 9910) was nowhere to be found, so by the grace of God, somehow we convinced him to go to sleep sans Kangaroo.
The end result:
- 1:30am we awaken to Zachary crying. A wet bed. Pajamas must be changed. Child must now sleep on the floor of our bedroom.
- Evan, awakened by all of the commotion remembers the absence of Kangaroo. He spends the next twenty minutes moaning Kangawoo! Knagawoo! We are too tired to get out of bed to continue the investigation of the missing stuffed toy. So we listen to him whimper and pray that our nanny knows his whereabouts.
- I am unable to fall back to sleep until 3.
Tonight I will not forget.