the long ride home
Saying goodbye to dear friends and starting on the 14-hour journey back to the desert was bittersweet. A heavy veil of exhaustion fell down upon us a few days before we left. I underestimated how much energy is required vacationing with your kids when your partner is far away (Kris went home a couple weeks ahead of us). I underestimated how much time I'd need to see (truly SEE and spend time with) all our friends who we've missed so much. Miles sprung a fever out of nowhere and was only content being held, which derailed many of our plans the last few days. Though Jes assured me otherwise, I began to feel we were outstaying our welcome. I missed Kris.
I trust her when she says we could stay forever. I think it's more that we all felt a tension between wanting the fun to continue, recognizing how precious our time in Colorado is, and yet also craving just a tad more space. Space to sleep apart from one another. Space to have temper tantrums without disrupting the equilibrium of the group.
Of course, the moment we pulled away and waved goodbye, space didn't matter.
Day One of the drive was about grieving. Wanting to be home, but not wanting to leave. Not understanding why it takes SO long to get from one home to another. Watching the sky-scraping, snow-capped beauty outside my windshield, then seeing it fade in my rear-view mirror. Miles felt much better, but still wanted Mama, and so he screamed for me from the backseat. It was too painful for him to see me but not be able to touch me. I spent a couple hours with one hand on the wheel and my other hand reaching back to hold his foot.
Day One was about being between. Not here nor there. Pulling further away from friends but yet still too far from Daddy, from the comforts of our home. B cried, saying she just wanted Micah and Dana and Ben and all her Arizona friends to move to Colorado and we could all stay there forever. Old friends and new. All in one place.
I felt the same way. But then, refreshed by a night in a comfortable hotel, we embarked on Day Two. We crossed from alpine landscape into desert, and I watched the outside temperature gauge climb, and I saw the soaring buttes, saguaros and alien-like redrock formations, and I realized a small part of me had missed this landscape in all its harsh oddities.
We passed a sign pointing to the Grand Canyon, and had I not been anxious to get home to see Kris, I would have turned. I realized we have so much more of the desert to show our children. And yes, we sorely miss the mountains and snow and green meadows and old friends. But we can trust they will be there next time we visit.
As I write this, Kris is trying to entertain the kids and let me rest. But they want to be with me. B keeps bringing me strawberries (one for her, one for me) and we're eating them in bed and talking about our adventure. Her lips are bright red with strawberry juice. She just made me promise we'll do it all again next year.