Friday, July 17, 2009

One for the road (make that nine)

Early this morning, a caravan consisting of Pat, Angie, Kieren, Dayden, Kiersi, Poppy, Nanny, Meelyn and Aisling set out from New Castle, heading for a place in Florida on the gulf coast of which I've never heard. It's a house with a private pool not far from the beach, and if I didn't absolutely hate the thought of my husband being at home alone all week with the dogs, I would SO be with them. It's just that our current economy isn't very conducive to commissioned salespeople taking a ten day break - it's hard to sell cars from five states away.

Meelyn and Aisling spent the night with my mom and dad last night so that early start could be facilitated more smoothly. I drove back home, alone in the van, wondering why it is with kids that they drive you crazy with their messiness and their constant saying of your name and their need to tell you every detail about a very long dream featuring a bicycle, that little cartoon dude from the Hawaiian Punch commercials and a cell phone with a dead battery; their whininess when told to unload the dishwasher; their obstinate resistance to comply with my order not to leave their wet bath towels on my bed...oh, so many things. And then you send them off for a week with their grandparents and aunt and uncle and all the way home you just want to cry.

ANYWAY, I got back home and my husband and I, treading dangerously around a swamp filled with sadness and I-wish-you-could-have-gone-at-;east and No-I-don't-want-you-to-be-lonesome-and-have-to-eat-fast-food-all-week, were strangely polite and formal with one another to the point where I felt like a bawdy slut sleeping next to him when I finally went to bed at 3:00 a.m.

Here's a call log from their travels today:

AROUND 1:00 p.m.

I've called the girls once and they've called home once. They're currently in Tennessee and Allison's nose was out of joint because they ate lunch at McDonald's. I just got off the phone with her and she says they're nine hours away from their destination, so they've made excellent time.

They plan to stop around dinner time and find a hotel with a pool. The kids are all switching off every two hours, so Megan was riding with Pat, Angie, Kyler and Kiersey. Dayden was in the van with Pop, Mom and Allison and I could hear him in the background chattering like a magpie.

"He sure seems excited," I said.

Allison dropped her voice to a whisper. "He has not. Shut. Up. Since we got in the car after lunch."

When he realized she was talking to me, he started yelling, "Hi, Auntie Shelley! I love you, Auntie Shelley! I wish you and Uncle Brian were here, Auntie Shelley! I miss you! And Poppy misses you! And Nanny misses you! And Allison misses you! And Megan misses..."

Finally, everyone started shouting, "Enough! Be quiet! We'll lash you to the luggage rack if you keep yelling!"

Sulkily, he said, "Well, we ALL MISS YOU," and then he was quiet.

AROUND 6:30 p.m.

I talked to Pop while sitting on the front porch, waiting for Hershey and Wimzie to do their early evening business. He said wearily that they'd all been stuck in three come-to-a-complete-halt traffic jams on the freeway today due to road construction.

"I like to travel on Saturday and Sunday when there's no work going on," he said. "We're only a couple of hours south of Birmingham and we've been on the road for twelve hours. Luckily, we are only about six hours from where we're staying, so hopefully tomorrow's drive will be easier."

They were all sitting in the parking lot of a hotel, but he told me it looked as if the only rooms vacant were smoking rooms, which didn't interest any of them. However, he told me that my mother had just come out of the hotel office with both thumbs up and then gone over to talk to Pat and Angie, so I don't know if that means they're going to go to the nearest Home Depot and buy ventilator masks or if they're all going to take up smoking.

I got the strong sense that everyone was tired, hungry and grouchy, so I kept the call short. I told my dad goodbye and then called the dogs, telling them to come in for a treat. They both rushed in, bumping into each other and I went out to the kitchen to feed them a stale fig newton and pretend that it was fun, having the entire silent, echoey house all to myself.

I am just WAY fun.

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