Harriet didn’t want to let go of my leg, but I handed her off to Rachel, our wonderful friend who has helped us raise our girls from infancy. Harriet was excited to show Rachel her “coa” necklace. If you know Harriet, you know that “coa” means unicorn. If you know Rachel, you know that she shares a love of “coas” with all young children. I gave Harriet a hug and slipped out of the room.
Leaving the school, I could see Alma already digging happily in the sandbox, her favorite place last year. A new friend was playing with her.
Leaving the school, I felt like I was forgetting something. I didn’t have a stroller with my baby in it. Instead, my baby was back in Alma’s old classroom, now her own. And my baby isn’t a baby anymore. She’s now a big preschooler who can talk about unicorns and dance and play.
I did the usual walk that Harriet and I did countless times last year. It was the same walk, but so, so different. I had a backpack carrying all my things instead of just stashing it all in the stroller. When I saw a squirrel scurry up a tree, I didn’t have anyone to point it out to. I could walk as fast as I wanted, and never had to stop to adjust a blanket or hand out snacks.
Even the destination of my walk is different. It’s still the college campus, but this year it’s so much more. This past year has been so hard. So, so hard. Jesse had a job that didn’t make him happy. Then he was laid off (more of a relief than a scare) and had a month of unemployment. Then he got a job that makes him happy. Now when I walk to campus, I walk towards Jesse. The whole campus has a different feel knowing that Jesse is here, doing a job that doesn’t feel like work, doing a job that helps people, doing a job that makes a difference.
Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop across the street from Jesse’s building, all alone. It’s quiet and I have time to think and write and reflect.
I don’t have anyone to point out squirrels to, but that’s okay. I’m going to be fine. In fact, I think I’m going to really like this year.