I am not sure how, but I managed to survive three days without Joel this week.
It was way too soon, but after he filled my car with gas, my wallet with cash, and my fridge with enough food for a week, he was off on the school’s annual fall trip.
So while Joel braved water parks, city-wide scavenger hunts, and a nighttime boat trip with a bus full of sixth graders, I braved Budapest… alone.
To tell you the truth, it wasn’t so bad. With the help of some friends, a tightly packed schedule, and numerous cappuccinos from the school’s coffeeshop, I made it through with minimal scarring.
But in an effort to unwind from a jam-packed week, I made a mistake. I allowed myself time to think.
And with Joel still hours from arrival, Aiden off enjoying school, and my sweet little Finn contentedly playing with trains, I let myself miss home.
At first just a little, but these things tend to snowball if you are not careful, and pretty soon I found myself sitting across from Finn at the lunch table, baring years of memories to my wide-eyed, soup-covered therapist.
But if you never reminisced with a two year-old, here is some of the transcript from our session…
“I miss Indiana. I miss walking through the fall leaves to the warm library. Do you remember the library?”
Hm. How to describe to a two-year old? I am not sure he ever noticed the books…
“The one with the play kitchen and the train tracks.”
“Which train tracks?”
Fair question. We tend to go a lot of places with train tracks.
“You know, with the Thomas trains, and the kitchen you played in? We went there with Emily and baby Ben…”
Getting a little teary eyed.
“Mmmm. Mashed potatoes!”
It was actually soup, so I took the hint and changed the subject to more toddler-friendly matters. Like Curious George and rhinos and some hilarious material in which I pretended to eat his food, but then didn’t.
But in the back of my mind is still that nagging reminder of home.
It is turning fall here, which usually means frigid mornings and evenings, with annoyingly warm afternoons where you are forced to strip layers you never intended to lose.
But there is still that fall smell in the air. And that smell can really take you back. When we lived in Indiana it took me back to riding bikes in my childhood neighborhood, to high school field hockey games and homecoming dances.
But here it takes me back to Indiana. Riding to the gym bundled in sweatshirts, Aiden begging to roll up the windows while I soaked in the feel of fall. Sunny afternoons in the backyard with scattered piles of leaves and smiling baby faces staring up through the turning leaves. Farm festivals with tubs of corn and hay-rides, hot apple cider and sausages covered with peppers and onions. Picking pumpkins and complimentary Halloween costumes. Strolling to the local coffeeshop, holding our hot cups in sweatshirt-covered hands, watching decorated children and floats march down the main street.
I miss it all to a near painful degree, most of the time.
But there are moments when I am here. Really here. Sipping a Starbucks mocha with a friend, watching our two-year olds ignore a playground-full of colorful equipment in favor of two, long sticks. Watching the boys ride bikes in the village square, eyes bright as they fly down the small slope. Snuggly sweatshirts and turning leaves and the wonderful things about fall everywhere.
In a couple hours Joel comes home and we spend a quiet weekend creating new autumn memories.
That someday I will miss to a near painful degree.