Not too long ago, that round yellow thing suddenly appeared in the sky, and the temperature went from 40 to 70. I threw open all the windows. I wanted that intoxicating, sun warmed air to waft through our house. I hate air-fresheners. Nothing comes close to the real thing. Shaun and I were getting her ready to travel. We were doing laundry, packing, making lists, checking bill due dates, and itemizing stuff we needed to pick up from a big box store.
With the windows open, the normal Saturday sounds wafted in as well, kids screaming and skateboarding, dogs barking when they met on the street, friends walking together and chatting. Our house is on a corner, there are no sidewalks, and our yard is on the corner as well. We’re in the far back corner of the development, on the way to the lake, and frequently wave at small groups of retired women who power walk the lake route by passing our house. It’s all very friendly. If I’m out grilling ribs, neighbors jokingly invite themselves to dinner, or ask what kind of barbeque sauce we use. (Exquisite chef that I am, I eyeball it and say “Brown?”)
We have a potted Japanese maple, with delicate red leaves: it has to be 20 years old now. Christmas has claimed the tree: leaping up into the pot, then curling around the trunk of the tree to survey his kingdom and his subjects as they walk by.
The kids are off with friends, I’m folding shirts and Shaun is checking items off her packing list. I’d lugged the suitcase in earlier, when Shaun was out picking up supplies. I unzipped it and cleaned out the flotsam from the last trip. Where do the extra buttons and bobby pins come from? Who uses bobby pins anymore? I picture some disgruntled, underpaid, airport security personnel who is sick to death of rifling through everyone’s underwear. She’s probably tossing in a few bobby pins, a sewing kit, and a couple of sticks of gum from time to time.
I forgot our dog has developed a strong dislike of suitcases. He knows it means Shaun is leaving. I stagger back into the bedroom with a pile of laundry fresh out of the dryer. Christmas is curled up in an impossibly tiny ball at the bottom of the suitcase, trying to look invisible. I yell casually to Shaun ( in the office printing out her boarding pass): “Crisis in bedroom #1.” I dump the laundry on the bed. Shaun walks in: “What’s the prob…” She looks down at the black dog fading into the black lining of the black suitcase. ”Oh”, she says. “We forgot and got it out too early again?”
“My bad”, I say.