It been a little quiet around here, and I don’t, at all mean in our house.
Things were coming to a crescendo before we left for summer vacation in Spokane, as they always do at the mid-point of one’s stay anywhere. For most people, in my sometimes-jealous State Department haze, “halfway” isn’t a milepost they pass knowingly, just a subtle chalky mark on the sidewalk of their days. They may not even notice halfway, they just cruise right on through it. Nothing really changes, you’re just “halfway done,” with another similar half to finish: running races, apartment leases, semesters and sandwiches.
That is naive of me, of course, people’s lives change similarly to ours, but I’d argue, not with such calculated and graph-able midpoints. Maybe it’s even, that we are made to become joyfully and all at once brutally aware of our “halfway point."
Our halfway is often the peak of a difficult period of acclimating or re-acclimating to a point of de-acclimating, turning from what should be a comfortable and now familiar slide, into a slide on a very humid day: Bare legs gripping to the slide awkwardly when all gravity wants is to pull you down.
June just happened to be our halfway up. The halfway point to our stay here in Oakwood, our repatriation, our time with our families and our friends and those that fall into a category somewhere in the middle. It was the halfway of Paul’s time in language, my time to shop for five people, to restock wardrobes from two years out of the country for two years out of the country, to work with freedoms and confidence that often don’t come easily in other countries. Our time to play on beautiful playgrounds, with beautiful grass, in beautiful weather, to drive our minivan (which we love to hate) to eat things we’ve missed and to eat things we think we might miss. To complete goals that these heavy deadlines always impose.
It’s a lot and it certainly feels that way right now.
I heard it said somewhere that the most difficult period of time in the lives of State-Department children are the times they return to the US for just one year. I will say confidently, from my own experience, that it isn’t just for the children that this particular length of time is hard.
I’ve moved both consciously and subconsciously from a mental and physical state of settling our family, to unsettling our family, myself and our physical belongings.
It catches me off guard and makes me feel off, sometimes even dizzy, but it is the pull internally and mentally that must be done to make one ready to say goodbye again when the time comes.
We’ve started talking more about India. I think. I actually don’t recall speaking about it more, but the kids have begun to talk more about it, so I figure they get it from us.
All of the “air flights” of the Lego 747, that used to go to “Brasilia East-West International Airport,” “Washington DC East-West International airport,” and “Cheney International Airport” (Which, for your information, does not and likely will not ever exist) to “The long-long flight to India International East-West Airport.”
Sam has begun to draw pictures of “Indian Princesses” who decorate the walls of their waterfall-encased castles, with framed portraits of “Indian Princes.” They wear red dots and jewels on their heads, none of which I recall them seeing or knowing anything about. He claims he never knew yoga came from India, but that that notion is “very interesting.” He wants to do more yoga.
Pete needs to know whether our flight will be a "long-long flight" or just a "long flight." Will it be on a
"long-long flight plane" or just a "long flight plane?"
Clem just says "no" a lot, but it is her favorite word, so we aren't really worried.
Just like always, they ask “How long until we leave for India?” and until just the other night we’ve responded “Not for a long-long time.” Until I started to tell them, “It’s getting close” which ended up being a huge mistake, because kid time does not equal real time. 100 days is tomorrow. So Paul and I found ourselves making a pact at dinner the other night that we continue to tell them that we don’t leave for a long time and when we get about 30 days out, we’ll make a countdown that will be more tangible. That sounds like a good idea, for now.
It isn’t that we are trying to keep anything from the kids, their feelings and preparedness, is always the largest parts of our hearts, but we’re making this up as we go, just like parents always do. We’re making rules and breaking them to make new ones that work better and all in the midst of our own uncertainty. Not everything we do will be right, but it will be done with the kids in the very forefront of our decisions.
When I begin to get overwhelmed at the amount I have to do in preparation for our departure in November, I try to turn myself into one of the kids; I throw “To Do” lists in the trash and we go to the zoo, because tomorrow is hundred days away and it will certainly be a better day to worry about India.