As of Sunday morning, the men in my family had—temporarily—flown the coop. For me, their same-day departures were strangely unsettling, lots of commotion around packing for different cities, arranging to be picked up two hours apart: one going to Kennedy, the other to Newark. I had already suffered through a double dose of: “Have you seen my blue shirt?” (Henry) “When is the cleaner delivering?”(Max) “Can you fold my shirts and blazer? I give bad fold.” (Henry). “I can’t find my medication…” (Max).
Uncharacteristically, Max was the early bird, somehow managing to depart at 6:45 AM to make a 9:00 AM flight for Los Angeles. He has an exciting career opportunity, and his potential boss required his presence before 1 PM Pacific Time. Aside from Max’s worry about whether his venture would succeed, he was leaving home with a bad cold and a sprained ankle in a brace. Nevertheless, a jump rope dangled from the handle of his suitcase as he dragged it out of our apartment and into the hallway.
“Don’t tell me you’re planning to jump rope in LA with your bad ankle?” I bit my lip to restrain myself from saying anything further. Amazingly, Max had not tripped over the jump rope or snagged it on the wheels of the suitcase.
“Don’t worry about it, Mom.” He rolled his eyes and punched the elevator button a second time.
I ran out and quickly stuffed the rope into a zippered compartment on the outside of his suitcase. “Maybe you’ll forget about it?” I asked, hopefully.
Back in bed (wide awake), Henry and I tried to close our eyes and go back to sleep. It was 7AM and Henry wasn’t being picked up till 8:45 AM, plenty of time to slumber till the next alarm went off.
Five minutes later the phone rang. “What’s my flight number?” Max asked. He’d forgotten the folder with his boarding pass and flight information which Henry had left on his bed. The driver needed this information in order to drop off our son at the correct terminal.
When I returned to bed, Henry was massaging his forehead. “What will he do about his boarding pass?”
“Print it out at the airport.” I shrugged and pulled the covers up to my neck.
Both Henry and I burst into laughter. (We could have cried just as easily). “Does he know what city he’s going to? I hope he gets on the right plane.” We continued laughing. Sleep was out of the question.
Shortly after my husband left, the phone rang again. It was Henry calling to say that Max had forgotten a piece of film equipment in the car. (No, I’m not kidding). Fortunately, Henry and Max used the same car service. In another stroke of good fortune our son’s driver discovered the equipment in time to give it to Henry’s driver, who had just dropped it off with our doorman. Would I please try to remember to bring it upstairs?
After my daughter left for lunch, I went home alone. Maybe too alone. I’m still trying to get used to not having our dog, Sparky, sleeping in a patch of sunlight next to the dining room table or sitting by the front door anxiously awaiting our family’s return. Sadly, Sparky has left us forever. (See my 1/31 blog, “For Love of Sparky).”
Henry returns on Wednesday (unless there’s another blizzard). And Max, well, that’s an open question. He may come home in a week or a month. Or perhaps he’ll move to Los Angeles and spread his wings at last…. We’ll have to wait and see.
With no one at home, I decided to pass some time in cyberspace, like the rest of the modern world. I was happy to discover that one of my essays, “Dog Bite,” had been published (as promised) in the March issue of Hobo Pancakes, an online humor publication. (To read it, just go to http://www.hobopancakes.com/2014/03/03/animalania-10/). That essay had been written almost a year ago and reminds me yet again that even when my son goes away—whether it’s to college or on to the next chapter of his life—he remains extraordinarily present.