I’ve often said when asked about Peace Corps experience, that if you can get through the application process, you can do the two years. I’ve also advised young people to do it as soon as you can. Don’t wait until you’ve got a house. Leaving a house for a year or more is such a pain in the butt. Leaving loved ones is sad, but leaving your house is a lot of work. Especially when you’ve created a monster like I did.
This week started with the Fourth of July parade which is a hometown deal, but is so much fun. I don’t even mind the traffic and parking challenge. There is some smug satisfaction of knowing the side streets and back way into town. We have strategic picnic breakfasts, and enjoy the quirky fundraisers. The community spirit and good cheer are better than Christmas. It’s the same with the fireworks. Thousands of people funnel toward the harbor and a prime viewing spot and it’s fun in a stealth sort of way. Someone gets there super early and lays the blanket, strangers are friendly to random children, there seems to be no worries about stepping on someone else blanket; kids all seem free and loose; ice cream, polar fleece, plastic dinosaurs, are shared with common goals of celebration and camaraderie.
The series of goodbyes peppered the holiday. We arrived late to the pre-parade barbecue after stealing an hour in the afternoon to clean Racheal’s multiple boxes out of the attic. The boxes of notebooks, tiaras, beanie babies, and books, were efficiently repacked and crammed into her little car to find a new home in her own attic. She marveled at the number of books and said, “Wow, I read a lot when I was young!” I replied, “You sure did. No TV. You’re welcome.” It was such a satisfying moment. I am grateful for many things in my life and one of them is that we raised children without television before computers. That lead to six heavy boxes of dog-eared books loaded into a compact car between two car seats. Those soft yellowed pages and memories of curled-up family-reading time are precious.
Our plan had been to get to town very early before the fireworks for prime parking and efficient get-away home. But we lingered at the barbecue, talking with old friends and new, saying goodbye and and explaining how it could be I would leave these two adorable grandchildren, and made it to the blanket on the harbor only 40 minutes before sunset. Ice cream had been promised all afternoon, however, and I took the baby and Rachael made her way through the throngs to procure the treat. She said she’d be right back. It was late evening and bedtime, and I was holding the sleepy, overstimulated four month old, and watching the over-sugared three year old looking for anyone near her size to play with. That innocence of asking any child in earshot, “Do you want to play with me?” melts my heart every time. I love the energy of children unharnessed. I love to watch them wordlessly join other kids. Amid the gorgeous sunset on the harbor I watched this idyllic scene while rocking my grandson when Amelia seemed to think she was jumping on a bed not the ground, and the face-first dive didn’t pan out the way she’d imagined. I saw it coming. I saw the gleeful tag they were playing. I saw her delight in this sweet boy, three years her elder, happily playing with this adoring three year-old. He dove onto the blanket so she did the same. Let’s just say the landing wasn’t a ten. Her face hit the ground and her head bounced back and the anguish on her face proceeded the howl that ensued. Six adult arms reached out to her as Kathleen, in one fluid movement, was at my side saying, “I’ve got the baby” and the handoff went as if we’d rehearsed it in a disaster drill. The injury was more surprise and disappointment than actual medical event and the treatment was cuddles, kisses, and ice cream that arrived a few long moments later. The frolicking resumed and I was, again, filled with gratitude for this connection we share as community, friends, and caring people. These experiences help me through this week of terrible violence and I so want to believe that we are mostly good human beings. There is no other way to bear it.
The rest of the week was filled with goodbyes peppered between stressful chores and details and hope that everything works well till I’m home to deal with it. Then there was moving the chickens to Massachusetts. Why did that seem like a good idea a few months ago? On top of getting through cleaning out corners and dealing with all the STUFF and meeting friends for dinners every night and eating too much and drinking too much, I vow (again) to live without so much STUFF.
Mass this morning, then brunch with the family, then finish the coop, then to the airport where we sit at Gate B19. Bags are checked, and we’ll be boarding momentarily so it’s sign off time.
I feel like I want to make these letters again.
Love to all,