The son and I have packed his suitcase; tomorrow, he leaves for New Orleans to spend a week helping to build houses. I am a veteran when it comes to packing, even for these school trips.
But how I dislike sending them off.
The last time I was in New Orleans, I was pregnant with the boy. It was deep summer, and morning sickness hit me there for the first time. All I really remember of that trip--besides trying to ask coherent questions of a database vendor--was the stifling heat and humidity, and the smell--of horse, of highly-spiced food, of car exhaust, of river water. Everything made me sick. Including talking to the database vendors. Richard Simmons, bouncy in his tiny shorts and tank top, was on my early morning flight back to Los Angeles, and I remember sitting there in the near empty waiting area, blearily staring at him speaking angrily to the person who was with him. The whole week was a nauseous nightmare, and I've never been able to convince myself to return, though earlier visits were lovely, and I have pleasant memories of sitting in Cafe du Monde with beignets and coffee.
And though I dread spending the week worrying about him, which I will, which I always do, I am glad, at least, that he will be doing something useful. His school's version of community service is often along the lines of "donate $5 to send a soccer ball to a child in the Middle East." While I've no doubt there are children in the Middle East who might benefit from a soccer ball, I'd rather his service be somewhat more hands on, somewhat more tangible, and I'd rather that he help the disadvantaged in his own country, who it seems we are so willing to forget exist. The spouse and I both had work related to the disaster that was Katrina, and so much of the devastation was unimaginable, unmeasurable. None of us can fix that mess alone, but we've all put our back up against it in different ways.
But I worry about him going. I worry so much about him going.
And while he is gone, I will have a challenging week of my own. Decisions. Finding the right man with a sledgehammer to remove that bathroom. Helping the daughter finalize her high school application, even while she has to start the final run at the science fair.
And me. The reassuring noises about rest and healing. But I walked two miles today, and could barely manage that. Exercise, I am told, is a great healer of this problem. What is not reassuring is that I already exercise 6 days a week. I'm fretful with pain, fussed over numbness and muscle weakness, furious over what I can't accomplish on my own. I am told that 90% of all cases resolve without surgery, but I'm always in the 10% that lands on the operating table.
(This is a ploy. If I make enough noise about it, it's going to heal without surgery, right? To make me look like a silly hypchondriac. Trust me, I'll take it on the chin as a silly hypochondriac if it keeps me off the table.)
I have too much happening this year to be sidelined by another injury. Not that in the end I let much stop me.
Go listen to some good music: "X&Y" from the album X&Y by Coldplay. As I finished writing, I thought about what LS said last week...about how I would stop at nothing to do what I wanted and needed to do, whatever the cost. And I felt it was a little meanspirited, but she is right. And today, when I came back from walking, the spouse was relieved, pointedly noting that there is, of course, no way to stop me. "Yeah," I sighed, "I know. I'm stupid." "Not stupid," he replied, "just very stubborn." But without that determination, where would I be?