hey lady. its raining in Seattle tonight.
The boys are in bed, I’m up late folding laundry, and I suspect you are up too, a few thousand miles south of here. I suspect its quite warm there, and I imagine brightly-colored birds sleeping in the tropical trees nearby, ready to sing to you in the morning to take the edge off that crappy nescafe.
I am remembering when we said goodbye for a while.
Your cheeks were wet
with the warm august tears of leaving the country for a few years,
and i was startled by the weight in my chest
a few years flies by, right?
I thought about this for days, and around the time you winged your way to Quito, I realized:
the weight was the sadness of impending time apart,
soaked with the awe of gratitude,
like a piece of french toast dredged in real maple syrup.
Every part of it heavier for the sweetness.
I knew I’d miss you but I didn’t realize how very much I loved you until I said goodbye. We met as adults, after the college days were behind us, and while work and life kept us from seeing each other as often as we would have liked, we’ve shared some of the defining experiences of our adult lives.
This had not occurred to me until that last moment before you left.
Scattered amongst the Korean Spa trips, camping/weefest/roadtrip shenanigans, brunches and bonfires and innumerable glasses of red wine:
both our weddings. your teaching career. my book manuscript. the birth of my son. and other, smaller things. a snowbound sleepover. a knitting lesson. a fondness for old family pictures. a whole lot of potluck.
As I buckled Callum into the carseat after your going-away party, I flashed on walking down the aisle at my wedding. Amidst 140 people, I spotted you, standing alongside the aisle in a green and white dress, just a few weeks away from your own wedding. We made eye contact, and tears welled up for both of us. I thought back over all the hours we’d spent commiserating over the challenge of planning weddings that felt true to us, searching for vintage dresses and ethical, delicious food, folding paper cranes and comparing the price of kegs and agonizing over how to spend the small amount of savings we had. And now here we were, nestled in the Olympic Mountains, having spent the previous night skinny-dipping in the ice-cold lake and getting warm around a roaring bonfire.
I realized right then that I was happier than I could contain, and the rest of my life had to have some brilliant moments waiting if my heart could expand this wide. I cried for the rest of the ceremony, and I cannot remember that feeling without remembering your face.
A few weeks later, I danced at your wedding, in a pagoda near the Sound. Strings of paper flags fluttered in the wind. You gave us tiny embroidered hankerchiefs, and we ate delectable roasted vegetables. Your party favors—yellow folding paper fans with your motto written along the side—got slipped into our backpacks, and we used them all across India on our honeymoon, which we left for later that night. They were heavensent in monsoon season as we backpacked across the plains, and I looked at those words a thousand times before the fans disentegrated from use.
(Lift up your hearts.)
Before we left your wedding, you gave us hand stitched Neruda,
lines from the poem Andrea read at our wedding.
later that summer, I got to work on your wedding present: retaliatory copycat hand stitched Neruda, lines from the poem Andrea read at your wedding.
These things hang in our homes, now.
Your hand-stitched letters in the hallway in my house in White Center
mine in your home in Quito.
I gave you pregnancy anecdotes to share with your 6th graders for sex ed
you pressed your fingers against my belly a dozen times, but never felt him kick, until that last warm night, sitting around in your sweet Capitol Hill apartment, when he finally put his little heel against your hand, through my stretched out skin. I remember it was a warm-ish night, and the smile spilled across your face, and the light was gold and soft. You told him “Callum, its time to be born! we want to meet you!” which he must have heard, because i went into labor 3 hours later.
before you moved away, I came over to your mostly-emptied apartment and carted away all of your mason jarsfull of grains. At home, I combined my quinoa and vital wheat gluten with yours, but kept your labels instead, so your handwriting is tucked on my shelves. I use your heart-shaped scalloped edge cookie cutter to make up heart-shaped pieces of tofu for my vegan eggs benedict, and I don’t think two years will be long at all.
And so I am content to let you go for a while.
off to brilliant adventures and unknown challenges teaching near the Equator,
living in a beautiful house with your husband and learning to bake at altitude,
exploring amongst waterfalls and butterflies and chickenbuses.
and instead of ending this rambling note,
I’m just going to start you a package, with the things you say you are missing.
and baby pictures.
perhaps you’ll get it around the new year.