I headed out for Colorado early on Sunday, July 8. I packed the car with Eric’s help (he carried up my running shoes) and stood around waiting for my brother to return from his Starbucks run for the three of us (how nice!). He got back, handed me my coffee, and we headed outside. After lots of snuggles on my nephew, who was wrapped in his new camouflage blanket I finally finished for him, I hugged Mike and my sister-in-law, Andrea (who cracked my bravado and opened the floodgates when she told me in my ear, “I’m so proud of you”) and got in the car. Set the odometer at 0.0. Drove out of the driveway.
Got nearly to Linton Hall Road when my phone went off. Mike. “What’d I forget?”
“Your running shoes.”
Gotta love the neph. Got ’em upstairs…but not into the car. =)
He handed them to me through the window…I RE-set the odometer at zero, and headed out again.
First stop was the church, where I left an African violet I’d promised to my friend Lee Mitchell at church…he’s a widower who took a liking to me about three years ago after his wife died and he’d asked if I’d like to have her yarn collection. After that, we were fast friends. Mandy and I visited him in the house he’d lived in for 58 years…he’d built it himself while holding down a full-time mechanic’s job and never working on Sundays. Wow. Anyway, he had lots of African violets and I’d asked him if he’d take mine. But I never got it to him, so I left it on Dana’s doorstep and Facebooked her to ask her to deliver it to him that morning at church. Except Dana was out of town. As was Mandy, who I’d tagged in the message as a backup. Ha. Hope it got to him eventually.
And that was it for Prince William County.
I had brunch in Stafford with Mama K…my college boyfriend’s mom. It was nice…I hadn’t seen her or his dad in about ten years, I think…we’d had sporadic contact over the years through email and through postcards I sent her every time I travelled to a new country. So strange to be in that house again…but I was really happy I saw them before I left. We had bagels and tea and chatted about my plans and her grandkids and what was new with her sons. I saw pictures of the grandchildren…my ex’s son is his spitting image. Wow. But worth the stop.
From there, I headed south to Richmond. My college roommate, Emily, had a baby about two months ago and I hadn’t met him yet. He was a real cutie…and her two older boys, Noah (7) and Jack (5) are always extra snuggly. We escaped with the baby for a while and went to lunch at Panera…and on the way back, I hit the first wave of emotion. Asked her to just drive around for a little while, slow, and let me get ahold of myself. Leaving home…goodbyes to Mike and Andrea and Eric and my Tony…emotions rising again over being back in my ex’s house…seeing pictures of him and his child…knowing I probably wouldn’t see Emily again till her boys were much older…it all just felt like a flood rising in me and I just got carried off by it for a while. We did have a good afternoon…I spent a good four hours or so with her and her boys and Bob…but it was definitely a tough goodbye. We were both determined not to cry…and I think we both failed. As I drove out, she and the kids were waving from the window till I was out of sight.
(ps – I didn’t get any pics of Emily and her kids with my own camera…so I’ll insert them once she posts them. They’re all precious.)
From Richmond, I went to Norfolk. My friend Lisa…one of my best friends from high school…has just come home from two years in Korea with her husband Tim, and since I’ve seen her last, her number of children has doubled. =) Stephen and Shannon, last about 4 and 2 when I saw them, are now 9 and 7, and are the most well-mannered, thoughtful, and well-spoken kids their age that I think I’ve ever seen. Stephen takes things apart and puts them back together, draws diagrams of inventions he thinks up, and knows a little about everything. Shannon, still the beautiful, blue-eyed, strawberry blonde she was as a baby, is quiet and helpful and sweet…but once Stephen gets rolling on his trivia, she joins in, too. Lisa’s been homeschooling them, and it shows…they are just delightful. Ethan, who turned four the day I got there, was born in Florida before they moved to Korea, but I’d never met him. He spends most of his time acting like “monkeyshine,” according to Lisa…he’s an adorable little imp of a boy, forever trying to keep up with his older brother and sister. And then there’s baby Nathan, about 5 months old, cute and blue-eyed and like a little copy of his brother Ethan, who’s a copy of his brother Stephen. They’re all just precious.
We went out to dinner at an Asian buffet place (Ethan’s choice), and the kids regaled me with everything they knew about EVERYTHING…and Lisa remarked they should have me over more often, because she and Tim actually got to have a conversation. =)
The seven of us were all packed into a little suite at the Navy Lodge…two queen beds, Nathan’s crib, the hide-a-bed sofa for Stephen and Shannon, and Ethan on two upholstered chairs pushed together. I read “Nanny McPhee” to the kids and failed miserably at winding them DOWN…we had a blast. =)
So, with four kids under 10 in a place that small, who would set an alarm?
I didn’t. And woke up at 10:40 to a text from Grace…four hours away and the next stop on the trip. Those kids (and Lisa) were so quiet and considerate that I never even stirred. Can you believe it? What an amazing family they have.
So, more snuggles with Nathan…more monkey shining from Ethan…help from Shannon packing the car, and a few more puzzles from Stephen, and I was hugging Lisa goodbye and hitting the road again.
But first things first…hit a Starbucks and checked my email. One from the current tenant of the Colorado house. Landlady had forwarded to her the message she sent to me, expressing that the decision to live WITH the girl was up to me, though it wasn’t what she herself wanted. The girl had answered and CC’ed me, saying it was clear this wasn’t what either of us two wanted…so she’d find a place.
So the upheaval was settled…the house is mine to myself again. And I was on to North Carolina…
…and Virginia was in the rear view mirror…for good.