Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kate and Crew 26: Go West, Young Man (and North)

26. Go West, Young Man! (And North!) (June, 2014) 

         The thought of driving to Wyoming with Teddy made Kate a little nervous. Not because of the drive--she loved driving and seeing the scenery and listening to music, and generally being prevented from doing anything else. She was nervous about Teddy. Traveling with him had been so easy in part because he was simply good natured, but also in part because through all those hours, there was someone in the passenger seat who could grab toys or make formula as needed. On this drive, she was solo. 
          Mister was attending a two-week seminar at Duke University in North Carolina, and after dropping him off at the airport, Kate would continue North to visit her dear friend, Louise, and her family. It wasn't even that far--another three or four hours straight up I-25. 
          Hard as she tried to prevent it, her pregnancy emotions overcame her, and she cried many times on the way to the airport. (Not to mention the couple days leading up to Mister's departure.) Two weeks was a long time, maybe the longest continuous time they had ever been apart. Kate knew that she was getting a far better deal than Mister: she got to go visit her best friend, see a new place, eat good food, and play with the kids. Mister on the other hand, would stay in an uncomfortable dorm room, be responsible for his own food and cooking, attend lectures that would probably be very dull, and be surrounded by people he didn't know. But all this, instead of making the separation easier, simply amplified Kate's sadness. Saying goodbye, she got out of the car, and sniffed out her usual (and by the this time, almost traditional) complaint, "You're always leaving me...." 
          And Mister replied as he always did, smiling kindly and wiping her eyes, "Yes, but I always come back." 
          Kate sniffed again and her voice rose to a slightly panicky squeak, "But what if you don't?!" 
          "I will." 
          Kate nodded dumbly. For some reason, this reassured her.
          By the time Kate was back on the road and actually on her way to Louise's house, she felt much better. What a chore it was to be such a basket-case all the time! Emotions and hormones raging hither and yon...what could she do? The immediate and most attractive solution of napping all day was hardly practical. She left the question unanswered and drove on her way, calmed by the open scenery and the puffy clouds ranging all across the horizon. 
          Teddy had started to fuss when they set out, but she had used up her panic reserve and simply turned on some music. Teddy clearly like music from only 4 or 5 months old, and when few options remained, it was always the best for a distraction. She turned the volume up and delighted in the empty road, seeing herself in a birds-eye view, zooming along the mountain rimmed plane with windows down, belting out the Dreamgirls soundtrack and bobbing her head to the funk beat. "Steppin' to the bad side....Ooo, Ooo, Oooooooo...." 
          Stepping to the bad side? she thought as she momentarily stopped singing. Should I be playing this for Teddy? And, if I can't play this for Teddy, I won't be able to play a lot of my music...and maybe I shouldn't listen to it either! ...But the music I like is good, and has such a great groove, and I want my children to like it. No, having different standards for herself and her kids was not the right answer. Kate had given lots of thought to what music she listened to, and felt comfortable defending her selections. She looked in the rear-view mirror, which didn't show much except the handle of Teddy's carseat, which was fortunately still there. Sometimes she could see a foot sticking out to one side. Well, she thought, he's quite now, and probably asleep. So she turned the volume back down slightly and kept singing, having made a mental note to talk to her kids early and often about good and bad music and what to make of the lyrics. 
          Teddy took a long nap, and awoke at the convenient time when Kate was beginning to be desperate for a restroom. They took a break at a tiny town store, and she fed him Cheerios as he stood outside and cooed at the passers-by. He was delighted, and Kate was glad for the chance to stretch. Even though the drive was pleasant, she knew her back and leg would be hurting the next day. While they were stopped, the rain started. First, there were just a few drops, but by the time the Cheerios were packed up, the diaper bag was closed, and Teddy was back in his carseat, Kate was standing in a downpour. She carefully pulled out and got back on the highway, windshield wipers on high, slapping the rain and adding frantic motion to the distracting roar of the sudden storm. Then she saw the DOT sign, WARNING: HAIL STORM 3:00-6:00PM
          Considering the massive hail storm that she and Mister experienced in Colorado Springs, she most certainly did not want to be stuck in the middle of a desolate Wyoming plane when one came up. She looked at the clock--2:00PM. She probably had at least an hour and a half to go. She suppressed a strong urge to step on the gas. Easy, Kate, she admonished herself, you'll be fine, just be careful, and you'll be fine. 
          And she was. She drove through heavy rain, but missed the hail. Louise's house was exactly three turns off the interstate, in a small town called Glenrock, not far from Casper. A reunion with Louise was always the same: squeals and hugs, little bounces, and general exclamations of giddy delight. They all went inside, leaving Kate's bags to be brought in later by Louise's husband, Tuck. Louise's two boys, Hank and Isaac were excited about having another little boy in their midst, even if they were hesitant about sharing their rooms and toys.
          Isaac was almost exactly one year older than Teddy, and Kate looked forward (with some trepidation) to seeing how the two of them would interact. Of course, it would be different with a brother and sister one year apart--but she braced herself to see the hard work ahead of her in  keeping two unreliable little ones in line. So far, Isaac seemed to enjoy Teddy, and was offering him toys by alternately shoving them in his face and then snatching them away again. 
          Kate and Louise chatted and watched the boys play until it was time for dinner. Louise had never met Teddy in person and couldn't resist the usual comments: "So this is Teddy! I can't believe he's getting so close to walking! Look how big he is!" (Kate had seen already, but never minded looking again...) 

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