Monday morning and we are waking up on air mattresses in our new Midwest apartment. We’ve beaten the moving truck to our destination by days. Without a dresser to pull a fresh pair of underwear out of, or a kitchen table, or a couch for the kids to lean against while eating their cereal in front of Nick Jr. cartoons (Oh fuck, that’s right. The TV is also on that truck.)–I’m feeling stripped away. Three small bedrooms and yet the place feels cavernous, swallowing up Harriet’s stuffed bear (the one she’s loved to a state of mange) lying in the corner of her room.
Ben gets up, showers, shaves and gets dressed and proceeds to do what he’s been doing every weekday for the past six months–head out to his office up the road. Only I don’t know where up the road is exactly and I’m feeling panicky because I don’t even know where I am. Only that I have three little kids who are officially on summer break (and no TV), a lack-of-caffeine headache coming on, and a brand-new Garmin to attach to the windshield of my car so that I can find a Target, with a Starbucks, because the one thing I do know is that having a macchiato in my hand will make us all feel a little better.
To the sound of keys clinking together in his hand, Dad offers a “Chin up. We are finally here and going to have a great time from here on out,” first to the boys ruffling their sleep-tossed hair, knocking them off-balance with his big paws, then to the girl, who he lifts up, splatting her little face with kisses the size of fat raindrops she tries to squint away.
The kids are running out the back door when he and I are alone on the front porch. “You got this, Tiger?” his question is more of a hopeful statement. And I know there is relief in his tone. I feel it too. Our little family is pasted back together again. There are some crinkles that need careful smoothing and the glue is still damp but the leaving is done and we survived.
“Sure,” I say, only I realize my eyes are on my bare toes grabbing for the same small piece of chipped concrete and I’m concerned now that my tone wasn’t very convincing. “Yeah, sure…of course I got this. Yes. Go do your thing. The kids and I’ve Got. This.”
“Real quick though, before you go…just point…which way is Target again?”