Saying good-bye to my sister and family is bittersweet. I am very ready to get home, my longest stint away, but I have really come to love hanging out with my family. I got a chance to know them all over again. P0008239

I bow for the last matinee, tear off my clothes in the dressing room, yank on my jeans and fly past the director and playwright with slapdash hugs and a bag full of hot rollers. I literally run to my car and drive seven hours straight to Anita’s. “Look at you, you still have your show hair!” she squeals with delight and we embrace. We haven’t really had a good visit since Italy so we talk intensely with great gales of laughter and tears of dreams and fears until three thirty in the morning. She says, “When am I going to see you next? Spring?” I gasp in protest but damn it, she might be right.Unknown-1

At five thirty I hop into my car and continue on the last four hours to get home. My fellow is waiting for me on the front porch, his door wide open. He smells like toothpaste and clean-man. Skip ahead skip ahead skip ahead – now he is feeding the chickens with his shirt off. I sigh. Anyone who knows me understands why. I admire his…homemade coop, his new canoe (now that we are four, not two), and the Jerusalem artichokes in the garden all bright and blooming yellow. He feeds me a bowl of turkey soup the size of a livestock water trough. “I’m used to feeding the guys” he says. But I manage to eat it all. I notice he has broth on the stove…from Thanksgiving…? He’s been boiling it for a week. “Too long?” He asks. I double over with laughter. “Oh no, by Christmas it will be a lovely rich colour.”Unknown-2

I leave early to wait for the bell, standing outside of Nora’s red brick school house. Where is she where is she where is she? Other parents saunter in and greet me; I haven’t seen them since June. And suddenly there she is: all ringlets and green eyes. She wraps her arms tightly around my waist and buries her face in my stomach. I hold onto her for dear life and we both have a little sob.

She says in a tiny voice, “Mommy, Mommy, I have missed you so much…too long…too long. Don’t ever go away again. Please. Please. Don’t ever go away.”

I can’t promise her it won’t happen again.

I feel sick to my stomach.

We walk in a little huggy huddle to the car and then pant and wipe our eyes as we catch up to our feelings. We drive home and three plants are dead and one of my wall planters crashed down into my raspberry bush and broke it right off. The patio is over run by fat spiders and the living room rug is outside rolled up because the cat peed on it at some point and the damage was determined to be extensive. The mail that has come are bills that have piled up. Having been away, I return to realize just how very small my little Vancouver apartment is. And dark. But God, is it ever good to be home.

When I step through the door I realize…the house is spotless! I knew Bianca and Kyla would have left it pretty neat for my latest renter, the lovely Anastasia. (and yes, she has a face to match the name) but Anastasia cleaned the whole house top to bottom. She polished the wood and washed the floors and laundered the shower curtain…I fly into the kitchen in disbelief and open the fridge door…everything is in nice neat rows and gleaming. “you cleaned the whole house, didn’t you?” I say to her. She smiles, “I know what it’s like to come home after being away for so long…” I am so grateful, I can hardly speak with the lump in my throat. I say, “Ana, you get free rent this week” “But-!” “No arguments. This was a hundred dollar clean. Believe me, I know.” What a sweetheart.Unknown-3

As I go through my stack of bills, Nora shows me her latest things and the craft she has made for me and chatters on and on and on and I am starting to feel the two hours of sleep I had…but there’s no time to rest. It’s dinner and off to the sitters because I teach my class at Langara.

Thank goodness I know this first lesson by heart. I have a wonderful eclectic group of people taking my course this semester. I am immediately intrigued and delighted with all of them. It’s going to be a great year.

On my way home, I stop by my Fellow’s place again, because I can. He pours me a cup of tea. His turkey broth is still boiling. I admit to him it terrifies me. “It’s such a huge pot, I don’t have anywhere to put it…so I just keep it going every day, adding to it, until I figure it out…but I guess…I may have to admit it’s been a little too long now…” Adorable. I kiss his adorable face. images-4

We are going to introduce the kids to each other tomorrow. “I’m nervous” I say. “Me too” he admits. He’s picked out a couple of creepy-cool pumpkins for them to carve. “I hope they like each other” “me too” “They might not” “and that’s okay”…”but it would be great if they did” “yeah”. He takes my hand in his. “So soft” He says. We gaze into each other’s eyes and see each other as parents. Two single parents just trying to figure it out. “I need to make more money in less time” he says. “I want more time”. I sigh and nod. Don’t we all.

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