Monday, February 8, 2016

The Next Act

 It all seemed to him to have disappeared 
as if behind a curtain at a theater. 
There are such curtains that drop in life. 
God is moving on to the next act.

- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables 

Last night my little family of four (+ one small dog) slept under the same roof for the first time in a week. Last we chatted I told you I had a big week ahead of me, which translated means I was alone with the kids for three nights last week, followed by three nights at my sister's house in Dallas.

Trey left early Monday morning for depositions in ____________, Florida. Sarasota, maybe? The city is inconsequential to my hardship. You came perilously close to a blog titled, "Here Are Some Pictures."

Despite Trey's absence, Monday was a typical Monday. I lapped the house all day attempting to whip it into acceptable shape before we headed to my parents' so I could exercise. Most of my exertion was negated when my mom & I decided that, since both Trey & my dad were out of town, we'd take the kids to Cheeburger Cheeburger for dinner. A 2,000 calorie dinner is always an excellent start to the week & a surefire way to ease Iowa Caucus jitters.

Here's some shots of Henry playing while I exercised, followed by photo evidence of us ingesting every last calorie we'd burned earlier:

Tuesday Trey's absence was definitely noticeable. I rose earlier than usual to ensure I was dressed to teach before waking Reagan & slogging through her morning school routine, whisking her out the door as soon as Trey's mom arrived to hang out with Henry. I suppose Trey's absence was noticeable Monday evening around eleven o'clock when I found myself in bed with both kids & the dog, beyond thankful they'd finally fallen asleep so I could listen for strange noises, side-eye my revolver, & immerse myself in the world that is dominating my thoughts right now, a world that hinges on the actions of an illiterate nineteen-year-old young man named Perry who's covered in tattoos. Fiction, people, fiction is the best. 

Perry & I stayed up way too late Monday night, & when I did finally quit reading I didn't sleep all that well. Despite exhaustion, I was determined to have a good day Tuesday. My determination faltered when the Security Guard at Delta interrupted my first class to inquire about a student. I let him know the student in question was absent, which he said didn't surprise him as the student in question is wanted by the Monroe Police Department. Oh, okay. It was at that point I concluded I'd been overreaching when I'd decided to have a good day.

Wednesday had its trying moments as well, & I'm not just referring to Cookie Wednesday stress. My mother & Reagan & I had plans to leave town & head to Dallas after my Thursday classes ended, & so I wanted to at least begin the process of packing mine & Reagan's things on Wednesday. 

In the ten minutes I was in Reagan's room gathering her things, Henry located, opened, & created art with some of my most favorite, most expensive nail polish.

I calmed myself before addressing the situation with him. I calmed myself with thoughts like, Hey, he isn't wanted by the Monroe PD . . . & he isn't nineteen, illiterate, & covered in tattoos. The perspective I gain by reading fiction & by occasionally leaving our home & interacting with the general public is so often invaluable.

Wednesday evening I had grand plans to meet my mom for dinner & graciously accept her offer to help me get the kids to their Wednesday evening Bible classes, but the nail polish was the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Please understand that I am the camel, the exhausted, single-parent, I-teach-felons, please-I-just-want-to-read, camel.

Thursday was a long day. I welcomed Thursday with a hot cup of coffee in our darkened kitchen a little before six in the morning, & bid Thursday farewell with a midnight cup of decaf at my sister's house in the bedroom soon to be occupied by my nephew, Michael. I'm pretty sure this is what they call the circle of life.

In between the coffees, here's a sneak peak at Thursday's road trip to Dallas:

In addition to a desire to partake in a weekend-o-the-girls before another male is added to our family, my mom & I went to Dallas last weekend in order to supervise Miss Maisie all day Friday while her mother, who usually works from home, attended to some work-related business that required her to toss the pajamas & put on her most favorite maternity pants & go mingle with her co-workers. 

Here's Reagan ready for her day on the town with cousin Maisie. Reagan told me before we left for Dallas that she was happy she was going to spend time with Maisie, & she was happy Henry wasn't going to be there. 

The niece & I waiting in line at Paradise Bakery & Cafe. 

Maisie & Henry are a few months apart in age but I always forget this because Henry outweighs her by at least ten pounds & has several inches on her. Every time I pick her up I want to discuss the possibility of our forming an ice skating team because I could spin & spin & throw her so high in the air. 

Ladies lunching:

We hit Weir's after lunch. We didn't have a stroller for Maisie & that worked out well because had she been in a stroller, Maisie wouldn't have been able to giggle & chase after Reagan while both ran through the showroom, making certain they touched everything & threw themselves on all the couches.

Weir's is a Christian-owned business, but I am willing to bet the salespeople talked about us behind our backs when we finally left.

I've had a Nordstrom gift card burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas, & so our next stop was the mall. We rented a two-decker firetruck for the girls & we were off.

I tried on a few tops in Nordstrom, one in particular that I didn't buy but am still thinking about even as I sit here typing (hint:it's not the T-shirt pictured below).

I tried on this purple tunic that caught my mom's eye. I loved it. I loved it a lot. The problem was that it dipped somewhat low in the back. It wasn't indecent by any means. No one would've mistaken me for someone who is paid by the hour, however it sparked a somewhat lengthy discussion between me & my mom about the fact that I am thirty-five & how much back is too much back, etc. 

I didn't buy it. Obviously I am still not totally at peace with this decision but I am getting there. I tried to find it on their website so I could share it with you, but so far no luck.

I also didn't buy this (because it cost thirty dollars!).

We left Nordstrom just as Reagan was about to have a meltdown about the fact that we'd done nothing she wanted to do at the mall. We remedied that with a trip to the Disney Store & two go-rounds on the Merry-go-round. 

Jessica met us at the mall, her long day of professionalism having ended. We attempted to eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, but alas, that wasn't in the cards as the wait for five people was an hour even though we promised to only use four chairs & put Maisie in a high chair. 

Here's the girls sauntering into our eventual dinner destination, Dave & Buster's. 

Maisie with the giant spoon with which they expect small children to feed themselves macaroni & cheese. 

Saturday morning Heath said he was going to get donuts. Donuts are usually fairly easy for me resist. If I eat one, I eat three, & then I feel sick & I hate myself. 

Heath came back with this:

Readers, friends, let me tell you that these are worth the self-loathing. They are more than worth it. 

While it was hard to top lounging around my sister's living room drinking coffee, eating the delicacies pictured above, & enjoying cousin-snuggle-time . . . 

. . . the remainder of Saturday was also pretty enjoyable.

We ate a late lunch at BJ's Brewhouse. I ordered this deep dish BBQ chicken pizza. The picture is blurry, but note the excess of Cilantro. Yes, yes.

Everyone's energy levels plummeted after lunch. I hear that happens when you sit around eating donuts until noon & then eat a lunch of deep dish pizza at three in the afternoon. That's the rumor.

We did slog through a Super Target where I took this uninspiring shot of Reagan enjoying the ride. 

After Target we attempted T.J.Maxx, but Maisie was having none of that & I don't think any of us were sad to leave.

We turned in early Saturday night. Reagan fell asleep about nine-thirty. I planned to sit & begin writing this blog while daintily sipping decaf, but three hours, one heated Facebook discussion, & a debate later, I'd written nothing & decided I was okay with that. I read until I finished Through the Ever Night, the second book in Perry's three-book journey. 

Sunday morning we packed up & headed East. It was nice to spend a few days with Jessica in these waning moments of our pre-Michael lives. It was nice for Reagan & Maisie to have some time with each other. It just makes sense to travel occasionally, otherwise all the money I've spent on my matching Vera Bradley everything would seem foolish.

When we arrived home Sunday afternoon, Reagan saw her daddy for the first time in six days. Henry & I were reunited after the longest stretch we've spent apart, ever. In the early hours of Sunday morning I dreamed that Henry was lost. It was a vivid dream, & obviously unsettling. At present it is late Sunday evening; Henry is snoozing beside me in the bed, his breathing a soothing backdrop to the click of the keys as I sort through my thoughts on this past week our family spent apart. 

I stayed up entirely too late Saturday night reading (I'm not going to tell you how late because I drove us home Sunday & I don't want my mom to know). When I finished reading my book I set Perry aside & read pages & pages of Victor Hugo quotes. I've never read Les Miserables. Every now & then I flirt with the idea of doing so. The above quote is one of many that has me again toying with the idea of jumping from Perry to Jean Valjean. 

I don't think my Sunday morning dream was brought on only by the three nights I was away from Henry. I recently printed & began filling out forms necessary for enrolling Reagan & Henry in school next fall. I spent the weekend with my niece, who is now two, & my very pregnant sister. Soon I will have a nephew. My parents will welcome their fourth grandchild. 

Maybe having only one of my children to attend to for three days gave me too much time to think. Maybe the separation from Henry was more emotionally taxing than I'd anticipated. People texting me photos like these while I was hours away made it easier.  

The last time I had such a vivd, unsettling dream, Reagan had just been diagnosed with diabetes. In the dream, we were at a wedding reception. I turned a corner & there stood Reagan, a huge plate of cake in her hands. I still remember the panic I felt when I awoke from that dream. I recall with perfect clarity the picture of Reagan standing there, shoveling cake in her mouth. 

I suppose the common thread in those two dreams is the panic I felt over having no control over a situation. I like control. I like it a lot. I buy planners & make lists in my iPhone because these give me the illusion of control. Things are shifting for me, for my kids, for my extended family. We're growing numerically; we're growing up. It's exhilarating & frightening. I'm clinging to the last act much of the time, peaking behind the curtain as it falls. In low moments, the sustaining thought is that, if all the world's a stage, God is directing the show. Additionally, I cannot tell you how much I enjoy play metaphors. It's likely why I've always thought Hamlet to be Shakespeare's best. Hamlet is full of advice I ought to heed: "Listen to many; speak to a few," & "Brevity is the soul of wit." I could go on, but you know, brevity is the soul of wit & all. 

The remainder of February will be busy for me. As you know I've the final book in Perry's trilogy to read. I've yet to decide what will follow it. Stay tuned. Trey's trip this past week will not be his last (don't get any ideas; I am heavily armed & also have enough insulin on hand to kill a grown man). This week will be atypical. My classes are cancelled tomorrow because I live in Louisiana & we are serious people who revere a day designated as Fat Tuesday. Reagan's WEE School Valentine's Party is Thursday, & so it's possible I'll have another disturbing dream sequence to share with you in a week's time. We've already purchased our Valentine's to give to her classmates; they are made of paper, are inedible, & contain zero carbs. 

I'm going to sign off by saying how utterly delighted I am to be home. 

"There is no comfort anywhere for anyone who dreads to go home."  - Laura Ingalls Wilder 


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