It was so great being with family for my dad’s birthday that I decided to move up my planned spring trip to see B, whom I miss very much. I hunker down and figure it out quickly: finding a cheap fare, using a few soon to expire free hotel nights from my credit card, and just like that I’ll be on a plane next week. (Since we once again have some afterschool help for V, it should be a relatively easy four weekdays for T.)
I’m excited to be heading out to see B so soon. Yet in that excitement I easily digress to things I can’t control in these tumultuous times, like the behavior of my fellow passengers. The only remaining spots on the flight at this late date were middle seats in the back of the plane. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as the last flight where I was also stuck in the middle and my seatmate, who was binging anime, very begrudgingly let me get out to use the bathroom, as if needing to get up on a 6 hour flight was unreasonable. What if this time it’s even worse? A scenario plucked from one of those awful headlines I’ve read about people losing it on planes? A middle seat gives me double the chance of sitting next to that person. These are pointless diversions I realize yet everything feels heightened since Covid. Crime is up. Traffic accidents, injured pedestrians, and yes, incidents on planes. Life doesn’t feel as safe or civilized anymore and so I am less relaxed about travel. Excited to land; nervous about the getting there…
Back to what I can control: following my impulse and instincts for a change by following my heart to the West Coast where I can have real shared time with B. After being with my family this past week live and in-person I keep thinking about how good it felt to be around other people, to share meals and conversation and downtime, where you’re just hanging out or going for a walk and you have lulls and then an interesting conversation happens – there’s time for the ebbs and flows of life. That’s the part you can’t get from keeping up through text or calls or even Zoom: that visceral component of being in others’ company.
So it will be great to have the time to focus on B, shifting gears from the usual routine, where so much of my day-to-day life revolves around V: after I’ve spent some time writing here there’s lots of laundry and housework to do and follow up emails and calls related to his future as well as little things that occur on a regular basis, because we are not just his parents and caregivers but also his advocates and voices for what he can’t communicate: This morning he needed one of those emails to his school team saying that he didn’t eat breakfast because he doesn’t have the verbal skill to explain himself, to say ”Good morning guys. It took me a while to really wake up this morning and I wasn’t hungry yet when I waited for the bus so I’ll likely need to eat the snack in my bag later this morning.” Our explaining this is an added layer of communication a typical kid wouldn’t need. Of course the typical 21 year old would fix his own breakfast and make his own lunch or pack a snack – skills that are especially challenging due to V’s impulsive relationship with food and his need for someone to help him with almost everything he does.
All to say V takes up a lot of space in my life. My heart is another story. There’s lots of room for B there, where I adore and am proud, occasionally get frustrated or disagree yet overall feel like whatever part I had in creating this wonderful person I gladly take some of the credit.
So this week I’m in limbo. Dealing with V stuff while already starting to think about what clothes and outerwear I can squeeze into one bag to deal with temperamental March weather. Already thinking about all the walking I’ll be doing back and forth from the hotel and B and then wandering around Portland. Already struggling to come back to the here and now. Because travel requires planning it is hard not to dwell in the future.
There are parts of that future I welcome. After I return it will be daylight savings time and the days will grow longer and warmer and hopefully as Covid numbers continue to go down, there will be more opportunities to be with other people. If all goes well it may be possible to get out of winter isolation. I like my solitude, I am in fact grateful for alone time, and yet I realized being with my family just how isolated we are most of the time. I appreciated how it felt to be with others. My brother and sister-in-law are the type of hosts that make sure you are so comfortable and at ease (as well as well-fed and hydrated) you don’t even realize their effort because they make it seem effortless.
The family time made me hungry for more, and so as much as I love T and V I am heading out again. Soon I’ll locate the carry-on bag in the attic and probably start filling it way too early out of excitement for in-person time with B.