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?