We're not accustomed to this new normal, when leaving this house doesn't mean enduring 24 hours of traveling hurtling through the air in a pressurized metal tube and landing on the other side of the ocean. Now it means enduring 24 hours in a car and ending up at "home."
On the packing and shopping side, this is a relief, even if it means my "I can pack this suitcase to within 1-2 pounds of 50 without using a scale out of sheer practice" skills will go to waste. But last night, Ethan reminded me that it's not just on the surface level that this requires some adjustment.
Right before bed, Ethan tends to evaluate how he's feeling and give me an update (he is currently vying for "most emotionally cognizant and articulate teenage boy on the planet"). Generally, he finds he's feeling some anxiety about the upcoming school year. This time he became aware that part of his anxiety stems from the fact that all this packing and preparing makes him feel like he really IS getting ready for that long haul to China, and it's sad that we aren't. I'm sad too.
Grief. It comes in waves, like you're standing at the edge of the ocean and you don't know when the water will come up and cover your toes, or when it will surprise you by washing up to your knees. You could stand there all day and not have it touch you, and then in a moment it soaks you.
But I feel like the tide is going out. The waves are smaller. We sometimes see them coming. They don't knock us down anymore, just get us a little wet.
So that's how we're feeling as we prepare again to head back. I'm off to make one more trip to Walmart. Until we get to Florida, that is.