The Last Day

We fly tomorrow. We’re leaving the house today. I’m surprisingly calm, which doesn’t mean I’m not jittery – my stomach feels tight and nervous. My mom is also surprisingly calm, which doesn’t mean she isn’t losing it. She’s just losing it in a very controlled way, which I find pretty impressive.

The movers are really sweet. There were three of them yesterday and I think four today; the big guy, who I think is the boss, helped me take my mattresses to the dumping place this morning, and was wonderfully friendly about it. The dumping place, by the way, is this piece of sidewalk around a tree, between parking spaces, halfway down the street that’s at the end of our street. For some reason there’s always dead furniture there; it’s on the way to a school, so perhaps the idea is that parents will see it and think “Hey, that looks nice!” and then take it home (or come back for it if they need a car to carry it). We’ve been leaving all our stuff there, because we don’t have a car and the Red Cross shop nearby (which is still more than twice as far as this dumping place) doesn’t want anything but clothes, which is what we have least of.

The stress of organizing the transportation of a family and all its worldly goods (except those which will be left behind – a careful sorting process) across an ocean is enough to make anyone want to tear their hair out (or other people’s hair; pain is a bothersome thing to deal with when you’re already stressed). My mom has managed to be mostly sane, and when she goes insane, she quickly stomps it down. She swings wildly between being her normal self and going into Berserk Mode, in which she has to forcibly restrain herself from throwing everything out the window; she worries that there won’t be enough room in the shipping container for all the boxes we have and nearly chooses to leave behind the whole kitchen, then resigns herself to renting a bigger container if necessary; she looks at things and says “I don’t need this, why am I keeping this? Here, Splash, give this to one of your friends. It’s a good teapot, they don’t make these anymore. It seems a shame, even, giving it away. They really don’t make these anymore, and it’s such a good teapot. You know what, never mind. I want this teapot, I already know that. Be consistent, be consistent. You wanted the teapot; keep the teapot.”

The truth is, though, that she’s organized everything spectacularly. I get the impression that when we get there we won’t find much missing, and we won’t find much extra. (There will always be something, of course; I’m sure there always is. But I think it won’t be much, and not vital.)

When we get there… This is going to be so strange. My dad is already there, waiting; he has been for a month now. He says he feels as if he’s in limbo, neither here nor there. My mom asked yesterday, half teasing, “So, what are your plans for the thirtieth?” My honest answer: Sleep. That desire is the only thing I feel I can accurately predict. Everything else… I have no clue how I’m going to feel. I don’t know what I’m going to think. I don’t know if I’m going to be lethargic and dreamy and detached from the world or bursting with energy and excitement. I don’t know if I’m going to be dying inside from longing or buzzing inside from the feeling of being home. And these are just guesses – for all I know it’ll be something completely different. I imagine I’ll probably swing wildly between all sorts of moods, but I don’t know how frequently is wildly (twenty times a day? once a week?) and I don’t even know for sure if I’m right.

I know I’ll be happy when I see Belle. I know I’ll be happy when I see the library, my old school, all the places I’ve been that have held meaning for me. I know I’m going to spend some amount of time curled up on the bed crying. I am bringing my biggest stuffed animal in my hand luggage for the express purpose of hugging it when that happens. I know it is going to feel surreal sometimes, looking at all the places I know so well and yet don’t. I don’t know how long it’ll be before that feeling fades, or if it even will. Maybe a year from now I’ll look at a street sign of the type I’ve looked at all my childhood and feel that odd déjà vu feeling of alien familiarity, and wonder where that came from.

We turn over the keys to the apartment at five. I’m seeing Squiggle after that, and meeting my mom and my sister at the hotel later. I’ve invited the rest of my Mao-people to dinner after; so far the only one to answer has been Ripple (who is probably the only one awake at this hour during a vacation), and she said yes, gladly. Most of my people have said they want to see me off at the airport, and were only slightly daunted when I told them the plane left at seven in the morning.

I haven’t cried from the sadness of leaving them, not lately, because I dealt with that a month or two ago. They gave me two paintings the last time I saw them, which was Tuesday – Taz made them, being the best artist in the group, and they are the most beautiful things in the world. I nearly did cry when I saw them. On Wednesday I took them out twice, once to show my sister and once to show my mother, and both times I looked at them and looked at them and ended up curled on my bed, weeping for sheer joy. These are the most wonderful friends.

I think I’ll probably cry at the airport tomorrow, for joy and for sorrow. I should take plenty of kleenex.

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