James is napping and the house is quiet.
On Tuesday, we lugged 190 pounds of luggage from Minnesota to Calgary. That is not an exaggeration.
As always, I meant to write and do so many things while I was in Minnesota, but the time just disappeared, as it tends to do over the holidays.
These are the moments I remember most:
- My parents had a cocktail party and James and my dad wore matching German outfits. It was very busy, but at the end, it whittled down to my cousin Meghan, her husband Peter, Diana, Nick, Betsy, Maddy, Laurent, me and Dan. I looked over at my parents and they were sitting closely on the couch in a very sweet way. I poured last glasses of wine for the people who weren’t driving and we talked. I guess there’s not much to say about it, except that there were so many years of knowing each other and I think we all felt good to be there with each other – us in from Canada, Betsy from Chile – with all the history but just kind of shooting the shit, you know?
- One night, we drank wine with my mom and dad and watched home videos. Many of the people who were there that night were in them: Meghan, Peter, Diana. There was the video of Charlie getting his Jeep power wheels and us driving it around and around in circles, endlessly. Mom smearing sunscreen on our backs in Florida and our squeals of excitement over finding shells on the beach. My sister and I saying prayers in bed. Us, in our late teens/early twenties failing at assembling a wheelbarrow and my dad giggling in the background, lamenting all the dollars wasted on our educations.
- We saw James’s great-grandmothers a couple of times. My mom’s mom, Monnie, came over with the family on Christmas dinner and James and her other great-grandson Eddie were both there. Minnie’s memory is going and she often repeats herself over and over again. But she seemed very present that night. She kept talking about how hard it was to get old – and how, knowing she didn’t have much time left, it was wonderful to see the next generation beginning. Another cousin announced they were pregnant that night. We also lost my aunt earlier this year. Monnie smiled a lot that night and spoke fondly of my grandfather but I could tell she was sad. Sad to be at the other end of life.
- On Christmas Eve, we went over to one of my best friend’s house and helped them prepare for an annual carolling bonfire. Our boys looked so silly cute in their puffy snowsuits. Then we sang carols around the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen.
- I had mid-afternoon drinks with Meghan and we talked about life and relationships and our kids. And then we popped over and her son Gunnar ran around the house with enthusiasm showing us all of his toys and instruments, her youngest Harriet and James sort of watching him with wonder.
- In the past, I thought about travel exclusively in terms of new experiences. But this year has been all about spending time and energy with the people and places that already exist and have meaning in our life. I love visiting new places – of course- but there’s something beautiful about the people and places that stick – the ones we return to. The ones we have known.
- On our last night, my brother drove all the way in from Minneapolis and Maddy and Laurent came over and we sat on the floor among all the boxes – my parents to move out the next day. We all watched James waddle around like a goof ball in his white onesie, pull toys out and make his silly sounds. The first time they all met James, he was a fussy 9-week old who never stopped crying. I think they were scared of him. But now we all laugh and make silly faces at him. It’s so awesome to see a person become a person – to see your family expand.
- Then the movers came and we piled into the Yuker (a 12-year-old lumbering Yukon) and headed the airport and now here we are and another year has come and gone. We came home with way too much stuff and I’m completely overwhelmed by how none of it fits in the house. I’m tired and cranky and I have no idea how I’m going to get James back on Calgary time.
- This time last year, I had a big round belly and was looking forward to this little person I knew nothing about. And now he is 10 months old. 1o measly months. A blip on the scale a life…in time. And yet these 10 months feel enormous. Ten months with my first child. James. My son. I still think it with such wonder when I look at him and hold him: Are you my son? I ask him. Am I your momma? He looks at me like: Duh. Yes, I agree out loud. I’m your Mom.