Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Planet Moloka'i

There are nine days left until I leave for Molokai. You’d think I’d be pretty much bubbling over by now, frothing with anticipation and excitement, a fun bit of nervous energy tingling up and down my spine, maybe slightly overwhelmed—but in a good way—by all that must be done before I can leave. Scribbling creative little “to do” lists, hauling out suitcases, collecting my travel books and maps.

The truth is, I sit in the middle of a very weird zone; nine days ahead to Molokai, the last nine a whirlwind of packing, moving, paper signing, escrow closing. And oh yeah, in the middle of all that, our Entry of Judgment, Legal Separation, months overdo, arrived in the mail. Timing is so breathtakingly unbelievable sometimes.

We’ve officially said goodbye to our house. I wandered through it one last time on Monday; completely empty, except for the ghosts and the memories that haunt and fill every single square inch. Remembering everything, like a movie running in slow-motion, and vivid technicolor: Christmas mornings, family dinners, birthdays. Bedtime stories, the tooth fairy, fevers, first days of school. How Barbie, Ken, and Midge moved in and took over our family room. Seriously. For years. Our very own Barbie Town, complete with pink corvette, jeep, house, and enough clothes, shoes, and accessories to last Barbie ten lifetimes. How our youngest always ran down the hall, jumping at the door jams, trying to reach and then one day, wala, she could actually touch them. First just barely, with fingertips, then, what seemed like mere days later, the whole hand reaching. How when the same daughter moved to France for a lifetime—oh yeah, that’s right, it was only for a year—I’d walk into her room, sit on her bed, and crumble, wondering how in the world I was going to get through it. Sleeping with my oldest when she had mono and felt like she couldn’t breathe, her glands so swollen. Watching Beverly Hills 90201 together… later graduating to Sex & the City, then moving on to the L Word (only when age appropiate, of course). The night one of them sleepwalked into our room asking for a cheeseburger. (Was it Annie or Katie? Funny how memories can be so alive and so nebulous all at the same time.) How I lay awake nights until they were each tucked safely into their warm beds before I could even fathom the idea of actually sleeping. The good times and the hard ones; the clear, blue skies, and the stormy weather—all a part of the glorious joy of being a family.

That day, I told myself, was the last. Too painful, too grueling. Just way too hard. But I couldn’t help myself. The next day, after we’d signed the papers, but before escrow actually closed, my car headed, seemingly of its own volition, in that direction. I parked for the last time in my driveway, and crept quietly in through the sweet white picket gate my husband had so meticulously made for me. I took in all the color, the heady, earthy scent, and cut the last roses I would ever have from that garden. The giant, yellow, outrageously scented Toulouse Lautrec, the ever abundant Carefree Delight, the dainty, dusty pink miniatures whose names, but not faces, I've long forgotten. Then I turned, took it in all in one last time, and closed the gate gently behind me. Walking back to my car, my sister-in-law happened (timing again... amazing) to be driving by and pulled up to the curb. It’s so sad, Debby, she said. Every time I drive by this sweet empty house, it’s just so sad. I know, I said. I know, reaching in and taking her hand, the welling in both our eyes threatening to spill over, run uncontrollably down our cheeks, flood her car, then the entire neighborhood.



Molokai may be a mere nine days away. A short five-hour flight. But to my psyche right now, it might as well be on another planet. Yes, there is so much to do. I'm not so overwhelmed that I don't know that. And it's getting done, slowly, seemingly by itself, one little bit at a time. My new camera has arrived (more on that later!), a true piece of excitement in the middle of the muddle. Yesterday I found the perfect bag for it, along with extra battery, filters, memory cards. I also found the shorts I've been wanting but that have been alluding me... at the very last possible place to shop for them. I've given my laptop over to my "husband" for a tune-up, the thought of being marooned on Molokai sans computer absolutely terrifying. I've cleared closet and drawer space for my daughter, who'll be living in my apartment while I'm gone, shopped for books, figured out how to pay the bills while I'm gone.

In short, it is happening. With or without my stressing about it, all on its own, in the midst of all else that is going on, what needs to be accomplished is quietly, and relatively effortlessly being accomplished. I'm sure there is a life lesson here somewhere. A big pearl of wisdom hidden in the muck and mire. Maybe on Molokai, I'll relax long enough and thoroughly enough, have the time and space, be able to hang loose enough to really get it.

Until next time...

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