calming potions and the art of leave-taking
at first, we were passing the bottle equitably. one by one, we each took a whiff. but then, oddly, inexplicably, i became the one, more than anyone, whose nose most regularly passed above the open vial.
it went something like this: inhale, deep breathe, and then as they say each year at the squeeze-me mammogram, “hold it! hold it!” now, resume the tasks of leaving.
we have a veritable pharmacopeia of soothers on the kitchen counter these days. we’ve catnip for a little charge. we have pheromones of cat elixir. and we have stress relief and, best of all, lavender oil for calming. says so right there on the label.
never mind that all these potions and concoctions were prescribed for the little kitty, the one who any day now will be tucked into his handy-dandy over-the-shoulder (mine, not his) travel bag, and marched straight into the belly of a boston-bound aeroplane, where he’ll cower under the seat, and i’ll do my darnedest to dodge the withering glances and full-on glares of all my cabin mates.
while the little fellow yowls and makes me long for the days when all i had on my lap was a screaming babe (who could be quieted at the mere suggestion of a nipple), i am told to dab dab dab the oil of lavender onto a cotton ball, and waft it just beneath his kitty nose. all the while taking spins past my own personal intake valve, where i too shall inhale mightily of the calming essence.
whatever it takes to hurdle me over this grand departure.
i promise you i did not set out to steal my kitty’s ticket to la-la land. it’s just that, well, we took one whiff and all at once everyone in the house realized ol’ mama might be the one who could profit most fruitfully from the stuff. even if the calm comes at intervals no longer than the dot-dot-dash of samuel morse’s code, it’s a calm that might not be present otherwise.
not that i’m a bag of jittery ol’ nerves or anything. not that i wake up 85 times a night, thinking of this, that and the other thing that must get done before the wagon train rolls east.
no, not at all.
“liar, liar pants on fire,” i can hear you singing now.
why, yes, i’ll admit, you’re onto something here. fact is, i have never ever, not in all my life, been so good at the fine art of leaving.
i trace it back to when i was five. every single sunday night for the better part of a year, my beloved papa shlepped his suitcase to the little turquoise ford falcon tucked in the garage. he slid behind the steering wheel, and waved b-bye! i sat wilted on the concrete step there in the garage, and cried and cried. he’d be gone till friday night. and when you are five, friday from sunday is a world and a half away, might as well be up to mars and back.
i never did get used to the belly ache of watching him pull down the drive, turn and disappear, the red tail lights my last trace of a papa i could not keep.
and ever since, goodbyes are my own personal castor oil. a bitter taste that must be swallowed, might even be good for you, but, oh, do i have to really?
so comes a long weekend of last goodbyes. goodbye to this old house i love so deeply, achingly. goodbye to the garden that blooms for me, delights me season after season. goodbye to the mama i hate to leave, even though it will only be for one short fine year. goodbye to lanes and trees that harbor me, anchor me, keep me feeling safe, secure, certain of my place on the map.
oh, i know i’ll tumble headfirst into this adventure up ahead. i’ve friends already, from the lovely woman who’s renting us a mere slip of parking space on her driveway, to the extraordinary fellow whose third-floor aerie will be our home away from home.
why, i imagine all of cambridge will hold me and enchant me, will peel back undiscovered nooks and crannies deep inside my soul.
i’ve no doubt that what lies ahead will be nectar from the gods.
but before i get there, i need to leave. and leaving wrenches me, rips me wide open, and stings mightily.
which is why it’s a fine thing this ol’ cat is tagging along. while i pretend to be soothing him at 30,000 feet above the finger lakes and all of pennsylvania, it’ll be me who’s taking all the whiffs of all the potions in the kitty bag.
catnip, anyone? or perhaps a lavender cocktail, served up with soggy cotton ball.
so it goes, chair friends. this i do believe is the last missive from here at the old table, at least for the next 11 months. we’re moving east for the year, and you’re coming along. soon, a big ol’ doberman hound will move into this ol’ house with a dear friend and her battalion of safe-keepers. they’ll rule this roost, love it, stoke it, make sure no leaks threaten to take it down. and turkey baby, the cat, takes a 1,000-mile journey along with the rest of my little clan, where for the next school year, we’ll turn pages, take notes, and get another crack at being college kids.
one question before i shove off: anyone else find leaving hard to do? or do you leap at the uncharted adventures of whatever lies ahead, knowing full well all will be well upon return?
Are you serious? Sometimes I find it difficult to leave my house to run to the grocery. I’m not kidding. Like today. I am NOT a leave-r. Godspeed to you …can’t wait to hear about it. xo
Safe travels! My flights with a kitty all went remarkable well and I was far more nervous than she was (she snored the whole time). And yes, leaving is extraordinarily difficult, even if there are good things ahead. Lovely post.
Oh, bam, 28 years in the same vintage condo–6 years longer than at my very first address–indicates how deeply I sink my roots. (And that very first address was where my mother was born and lived all her 77 years–there’s a pattern.) But through your rich missives I will enjoy vicariously enchantment after enchantment in The New Place in the East.
My nesty girl instincts are almost as strong as yours, Bam. But, occasionally it is the right time for a change. I knew in my heart of hearts that after 27 years at the same address it was “right” for us to move a few months ago. And I think you also know that this temporary relocation is the right thing for you and your family. Breathe deeply! Lavender does help. Best of luck to you and your family as you travel east. I am looking forward to many missives detailing your Cambridge adventures from the new table.
Thank the Lord for the technology which will keep us connected while on your big adventure. There is something about being in a place you know is temporary — I was blessed to live by the ocean for four glorious years. Each day I would think — enjoy it, you won’t be here forever. It adds a certain sweetness to it. Goodbye is miss named. Not often is it good (though, admittedly, it sometimes is); but it’s hard because we have been blessed where we are … And it is hard to believe we could be so wherever we are going. But you will be, for wherever your dear heart goes, people respond, because it is rare to meet someone who sees life as you do. Deep breaths, lavender included … This is not goodbye, just adieu. And in a year, you will not want to leave Cambridge! Go with God, bam, and our love goes with you.
ahhh, you make me cry, beautiful NP. you are lavender bottled, in human form. the whole chair is. and the table too. bless the intertwinings that forever connect us…..Go with God, indeed. may each and every one of us, wherever we go today…..
I cried when I moved out of my first grad school apartment, it was quite horrible indeed but it was HOME for a year and I had NESTED.
bam, you just need to change the pic up top and photograph your new table where we’ll be meeting for the coming year. 🙂
My youngest has been invited to her first sleepover next week — an event she has been asking for for a year. But now come the worries: How will she sleep if she has to wear pajamas? How will she sleep without her fan on her? without her music? what will she do when she wakes up earlier than her host? She intends to spend Friday making a list of what she needs to bring and Saturday she will pack all day. . . I think I will buy her some lavender oil. And goodbye is aptly named since it is really God be with you. Whatever spirit takes care of you will be with you during the packing and the kitty flight and the year in Cambridge. That spirit will again be with you when you leave your dear friends in Cambridge and the wonderful house where you have nested and the colorful parking spot and return home to us.
i love a girl who spends a day making a list, of what she’ll spend the next day packing. i love a girl whose head tumbles with worries. i love a mama who lets me in on the secret (secret to me alone, apparently; everyone else in the world likely already knew) that goodbye is “god be with you.” (here’s the sound of me slapping upon my knee…) i just LOVE a discovery like that. if we don’t go through the whole bottle before departure, i’ll leave a dash on the front stoop so you can snatch it for your sweet girl. and while you’re at it, you might want to take a whiff. love you, A. and i miss you already. xoxox
May you be blessed with an easy leave-taking, safe travel, fabulous new friends, rich new experiences, and inspiring encounters along the way. xoxoxo
It was so hard to leave the Chicago house where my babies were born, where my old neighbors kept watch on them like so many grandparents. It will always be home. But what adventure awaited us here? A new city, schools, neighbors so very different than our old ones, the east coast where everything is right in reach within hours! Oh BAM, you shall make many new friends and collect so many fine new stories. Can’t wait for you to share them with us! (i’ll be up there Sept.1-3)