Thursday, July 30, 2015

My missing piece

I miss my little girl. She's away at camp and I am not with her and I feel as though I am missing an appendage.

When I told my mother I was pregnant, she said, "Now you will know what it is like to walk around with your heart outside of your body." The minute I gave birth to Zoe, I learned what she meant.

In an attempt to make myself feel better about her absence, I plan things for us to do when we are together again. I purchased a journal that gives writing prompts for both of us to share our thoughts with each other. I learned from a friend how to access all of the Doctor Who episodes on Netflix so we can start watching together. I had started watching and was about five episodes into season four when Amazon Prime dropped all the BBC shows and I came to a screeching halt. Now that we have Netflix I can watch there, but I couldn't find them and then I remembered Zoe wants to watch Doctor Who, too, and so I should just start over with her. I thought about what else we can do when we go to Chicago to visit the American Girl store.

I think about her often, wondering what she's doing at this exact moment. Is she on a hike? In a canoe? In the pool? Did she put on sunscreen? Is she being friendly to girls not in her little cluster, girls who are there without known friends? Are they really calling her Donut?

Our house is like every other house where people live and work and play. It accumulates clutter over the course of our days. Mail piles up on the counter. Books and magazines and iDevices - and their accompanying charging and headphones cords - are strewn about. A sweater is tossed over a chair, shoes jumbled on the floor just inside the door, all the Zoe-made trinkets from the kitchen windowsill piled on the island so the man who hung the new window treatments wouldn't knock them over. About once a week, I sweep through and clean it all up. Horizontal surfaces remain visible for maybe a couple of hours at most, and then the stuff of life creeps back in. In preparation for the plumber coming to fix our toilets Wednesday - because plumbers are ultimately very concerned with the crap sitting around their clients' homes - I cleaned everything up. Arms full of Zoe's detritus, I elbowed open the door to her room and pushed in. I saw her cluttered dresser, full of clothes and jewelry and bouncy balls and various awards certificates earned from her summer camps. Her unmade bed. Stuffed animals scattered about, especially those freaky big-eyed ones she loves so much. An empty backpack on the floor, slouching up against the foot of her bed. I felt a catch in my throat and realized I was about three seconds away from losing it, from breaking down in tears, just from missing her so much. I distracted myself by making her bed and remembering what day of the week it was and calculating how many hours it would be until we pick her up. For those of you who don't know me, this is the best sort of distraction, because in order to do mental math of any sort I need to shut down all other brain processes short of breathing and concentrate really hard for a really long time. And even then most of the time the answer at which I arrive is invariably incorrect.

Earlier this summer, she created a new routine. She sighs loudly and mournfully, and looks at me with big, sad eyes. I ask her what is wrong. She sighs again, shakes her head slowly, and laments, "My smoochy tank is empty." And then I cover her face with kisses until she's laughing and kissing me back. She will do this several times in one day, which leads me to believe that, much like my bladder in the middle of the night, her smoochy tank doesn't hold much. I wonder how she's getting by today, this being the fourth day of being unable to fill her smoochy tank.

My smoochy tank is empty, too. Thankfully, I will fill it tomorrow. How many hours is that? Let's see...if it's 4:07 now...


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