They left her luggage in Dubai – two suitcases stuffed with gifts and a scattering of clothes. And there were flight delays, and the traffic on the I-5 was so bad it took me 45 minutes to drive the last 20 miles to Sea-Tac – after hovering close to 80mph most of the way because I could not be late, only when I announced that I was leaving Himself announced that before I left (it’s a four hour drive) he absolutely had to check the tires … the radiator … the oil … the-who-knows-what-because-I-had-to-run-inside-and-do-housework-to-prevent-myself-from-screaming … and then I was at the airport, and inside, and there were people everywhere but none of them was HER. (Although at least she had her phone and could text.)
And then there she was, and all I could do was hold on, and hold on, and when I let go she still held on.
It’s been so, so long. Half a lifetime, nearly. She was 18 when Himself and I found each other at some long lost intersection of the World-Wide Web, and I launched myself – not heeding the cost, never suspecting how high it would be – across the Atlantic and to the far side of a continent that was itself a world away, and into his arms, his bed, his life (our 17th anniversary was just the other day). And left her behind.
And now she’s here.
This whole feverish, dusty summer has been building up to this. Hours online planning a road trip, dollars committed – far more than I intended but it’s been so long – more hours tunneling through the chaotic mess of the guest bedroom and cleaning and transforming it into a welcoming space. The antique brass bed is the one I bought her when she was eight years old and we moved into the first (only) house I bought as an adult single person and I determined to give her a space that would feel like forever, like hers, like home. The karakul rug we found at the Rand Easter Show that same year – it’s still beautiful and soft on her feet, after I pulled it – covered with dust and bird shit and mouse droppings – out of the barn and sat with it in a steaming laundromat for hours a few days ago, one of the hottest days of this hot summer. The chest of drawers and wardrobe are empty, just waiting for her bags to arrive from Dubai.
We can wait. There’s no great rush. We have a whole three weeks of summer.
And she’s here.