on my way home, i remembered.
i panic when the sun sets.
maybe that's why i had started to cry at home. i wasn't sure. there were a lot of variables to account for...
the kids have been gone since monday afternoon. they've never been gone. oliver went away for one night once. i went away for two when violet was born. two more when bradley was born. another for ruby. another for samuel. i only leave leave them, begrudgingly, for births.
violet has never been away. not for an instant. and then five nights, straight out of the chute. no looking back. no panicked late night phone calls.
all my tethers had untied themselves. children gone. two schools abruptly left behind. the season changed definitively to the stifling summer heat. the rains stopped. our yard became a meadow. no work.
my husband left this evening. he's gone to get the kids. i stayed behind for some reason. none of this was my idea. i have the guts of spring cleaning to repair. cupcakes to make for the family party at my sister's. a star-shaped foil balloon to buy and put in the front yard with violet's new school sign. a car to have detailed while it's empty of carseats.
my husband left this evening. i calculated and searched: this is my first night alone in at least a decade. since before leaving my loft in deep ellum at six months pregnant. 2006.
i don't know how to process all this. how to feel. the children gone. do they still exist? if they did, it seems like they would be right here.
he left as dusk was approaching.
soon after, i panicked.
i burst into tears and sobs. i told myself i didn't know why i was doing this. i needed to get out of the house. i couldn't get out of the house like that. but i needed to get out of the house. something was wrong.
i got out of the house. it was getting dark. i put the window down and drove to the video store to take back the grand budapest hotel.
i panic because the day is shifting gears and i feel i have to hurry to make it count. i sense people going places and being together and feel myself falling behind. i can go with a friend to a bar and see it empty and feel urges to go to where all the people have gone. why did they leave this bar and go somewhere else without leaving a note? i go into social comas and wake a year later to see we're in the wrong place. everyone moved on to the next great thing. we're missing it. they're living life without us.
without whirlwind children here, i have nothing to occupy my mind. i feel myself left behind. i didn't go with brian.
when facebook exploded and everyone reunited and posted old photos, i saw how many had all my friends gathered together, but i wasn't there. where was i? did i know i had missed it? was i left behind on purpose? it's happened before. a boyfriend no one liked. another that everyone hated. and later on for reasons i never understood. it turns out, nothing is forever. forever can't and shouldn't be counted on. it doesn't exist.
i panicked because i don't know how to feel. i can't feel happy to have my children gone. i can't celebrate and mourn the same thing. they're coming back. i've had ten years SOLID SOLID SOLID of living inside a ball of static. zapping. pressing. always present. short circuiting my head. my emotions. my patience. my personality. my marriage. my ability to breathe. chest tight, waiting for the next ping to my person. the next request. the next fight. the next demand. the next requirement. the next detail not yet done. wave after wave of incomprehensible intensity of emotions. a rainbow. too much to handle and it grows from here.
ten years. first decompression. i don't know how to feel. i don't know what to do with it. i don't know how to make it count. i couldn't get my husband to do this with me. i dragged him along, sulking and grumping and too tired and i'm sorry about work and my throat is sore.
my days have floated anchorless. no schedule to hold me in place and create hatchmarks on my timeline. to tell me when to eat dinner. i've eaten lunch and lazy late afterthought dinners. no anything else. food untethered itself.
i drove to the movie store and there were some people in there. quiet, like they were in a library. which, they were. i placed the case on the counter and walked to the back wall to stare at it. i couldn't find anything. i walked to the front and back again. looked again. i didn't want to get something and then feel too anxious to finish it. i didn't want to connect the player back up to the tv. switching a plug from here to there was overwhelming. i finally left and stepped out to the sidewalk, warm air. the store sign crackled and radiated overhead. Ross "Pistol" Love glowed red to the left across the parking lot. i looked out to mockingbird and strongly felt where we were bobbing about in time. how this would all be gone. how it never was before. how all time is warmly, lazily layered upon itself in fuzzy-edged waves of concurrence.
i rolled two windows down. music up. i drove and ran into the ghosts of me. one putting ttyki down and begging her to help me. one slowly pulling into the parking lot on the back side of the block, oskar's body dead on my lap.
i pulled down the ramp to the lake. it was black. the water was rough and the chops broke the moonlight abruptly. i could see little. driving into fireflies. a bird stood motionless and daydreaming on the road ahead. passing people in the dark parking lot, hatches popped. what were they doing. how do people manage to have large groups of friends they go out with at this point in life. how do i still not know how to do this?
i circled through the lot at the park, children still running and screaming in the dark. back up the west side of the lake. dim lights on inside too-large houses. what were they doing in there? were they lonely or sad? were they home at all?
i didn't leave the porch light on for myself. my neighbor's car in the drive makes it look like there are more people here than there are. they've made themselves a new driveway and i've offered to come rollerskate on it for them.