No Matter Which Way You Slice It

August 10, 2010 at 9:33 am 2 comments

It really is still a nine-hour drive from Portland to Missoula. It seems that driving during the night doesn’t change that fact. Although, we were able to effect a change in the incessant discontented moaning from the toddler. She whimpered in her car-seat shaped sleep instead. On that front we were successful. With three slumbering girls tangled in the back seat Nathan and I finished several conversations, munched on trail mix, and zoned out, which proved to be a refreshing shift from the constant snack fetching, squabble settling, and nursing gymnastics of the previous trip. Now, the three hours of sleep I got upon returning home? Not so refreshing.

But we are home. And, the gods really are smiling on us. Clean sheets, a clean fridge, a clean house, more than one could ever wish for upon return. Either we picked a stellar house-sitter, we got a little help from sympathetic and awesome friends, or both. As soon as the sun rises a bit more I intend to find out.

The last portion of our trip included Pickathon, a music festival that stretches across a warm, sweet-smelling, gorgeous farm right outside of Portland. Emily traded several of her Filly dresses with the founders of the festival in exchange for a vendor booth and tickets for all. This meant that not only did we get to listen to music, gaze at Mount Hood in the distance, and people watch, we also had a home base in the heart of the action where we could help beautiful women try on clothes, cook a meal in our makeshift kitchen, and lounge with my sister. The girls were equally content. New friends, kid activities, favorite foods, caring adults always ready to grab a snack or wrestle, and the freedom to run wild, knowing they could always find their way back to the Filly booth.

I also have never seen dirtier children. At night we methodically wiped farm dirt from between fingers and toes, scrubbed watermelon juice from chins, and washed unknown sticky streaks from necks and forearms before unzipping the tent flap. Like dead weights they dropped into their sleeping bags, glow bracelets adorning far-flung arms, faces slack with exhaustion. Nathan and I stepped back into the musical dark each evening knowing that we’d stuffed enough fun into those skinny bodies to last them a lifetime.

And I am filled as well. There is such exquisite pleasure in the company of our friend-family. Our children are theirs, the closest they have to their own, and they treat them as befits that honor. They smile at their antics, know their personalities, and see their histories in each twist and twirl. And as the girls wove in and out among our sandaled legs we ate berries, drank tea, and laughed. We discussed topics that only friends of many years get to discuss in mixed company: sex, relationships, embarrassing moments, the past, the future, our dreams and concerns. I wore my sister’s shoes, and got to be next to her, to watch her face and delight in her crinkly smile.

Pulling away from the curb was tragic as always. They stood on the lawn, mustard yellow sweaters, red jeans, dusty blues and greys, a rainbow of everything good and sustaining. My sister’s face was puckered in that sad way that if we lingered, or said anything at all, would crumble into crocodile tears. My throat tightened around a yo-yo and we drove away.

I sure do love her.

I love them all, and I am grateful that we got that splendid summer week in their company.

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Ursa Majors and Minors Deja Vu

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Pick- in Pictures | "A Beautiful Place of the World"  |  August 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    […] Natalie and her sister, Emily, both did great posts about our time at Pickathon this past weekend: here and here, respectively. But I still wanted to fill in the visuals from our perspective. I regret […]

    Reply
  • 2. romy  |  August 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    ah sister love. nothin like it. I miss emily for your sake.

    Reply

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