I saw the decorations on the door as soon as the cab pulled up to the house. Primary coloured paper hearts strung from string taped to the window and paper chain loops. I knew just who had made them.
When we opened the door the house was quiet. Then I saw my sister pop out from the kitchen at the end of the hallway. Look who's here I heard her say. Who asked the girl, as if she was slightly annoyed to be receiving unexpected guests. Mom and dad replied my sister. Oh said the girl and she ran down the hall into my arms where I was kneeling waiting for her. The boy made his way towards me to, but then walked right past to look at the pile of luggage we had dumped in the hall.
I hadn't really missed them. Not at first anyway. I was too busy reveling in being alone, being with friends, being the master of my own time. I had needed that break almost too much to be missing them. It wasn't until the husband joined joined me in New York that I started to think about them. Knowing they weren't with him I started to wonder how they were. Only occasionally though. A brief thought until I was easily distracted by food or a pretty building.
A email from the mom of a boy whose birthday party the kids were to attend on Saturday brought an end to my relaxed attitude. You have probably already heard, she wrote, that the girl didn't want to join the pirate ship and so they left. My heart stopped when I read that the girl had been very upset. All of a sudden the fact that I wasn't there to comfort her and wipe away her tears had me crying.
Sometimes I think it is better not to know.
I managed to talk myself through it. I walked myself through it as we traipsed across the island of Manhattan making our way down towards the Brooklyn Bridge. But when I woke up the next morning all I could think about was getting back and being with them. The break was over, and if I had to return to the real world I wanted to do it now. Like pulling off a band aid, I wanted the trip home to be over with quickly.
There were delays of course, but when we made it home we saw that everything was fine. A long sheet of brown paper taped to the hallway wall recorded all the highlights of the past few days. The kids weren't traumatised or heartbroken. While they likely missed us, I have a feeling the missing was probably offset by the spoiling they received from my sister and grandma. There are new books and new toys and, I am predicting, new things the girl will inform me that she is now allowed to do.
I am back. I am here. I am trying to figure out where to go next.