Half of my Heart (Pt. 1)

Bill's cousin's high school graduation announcement arrived in the mail. We ooh'd and ahh'd at how gorgeous she looked, how smart. How strange it felt that the smiling little girl who always tirelessly played with my babies at the annual family reunion was now this tall, womanly thing! She can't possibly be 10 years older when we obviously haven't aged a day, right? We stared at her picture and I felt the rush of the train thunder in my chest as time laid track after merciless track. 

I have wanted to show off my beautiful Seattle to my children for years. Wyatt had been when he was a toddler, but now we had these four beautiful, adventure loving and AWARE humans who hadn't seen the splendor of the emerald city. They knew their mother's heart was constantly being pulled between Seattle and Manhattan. It was a part of me. It's where their father grew up. It was a part of our family culture. 

"What if we went? Wouldn't it be fun and unexpected to just...show up?"

Bill smiled and gave a little laugh. He looked up from the picture at me. We were both grinning like joking fools, but our eyes said more. What if? and then Why not?

We would be in the Seattle, Washington area for a day and a half. Two days to get there, two days to get back, and only a long weekend to spare. But oh, we would FILL those 36 hours with GREEN and PACIFIC NORTHWEST AIR and SPACE NEEDLE! Bill made a list of our must-do's. We'd rank them in order of importance, and we'd work down the list as best we could, and anything we didn't get to...well, there would just have to be a next time. A longer next time. And soon.

The very non-negotiable top spot on our list was: visit with family. After that, at the top of the list I placed: Pike Place Market (oh, how I loved that magical place as a girl!), taking the kids to Grandpa Mac and Grandma Martha's graves. Bill's list contributions included a visit to the old house in Sammamish and a Wibleys Burger.

We would pass through Sammamish on our way in, so we decided to show the kids where dad grew up first thing.

"I can't believe how small everything feels," Bill said as we navigated the up-downs of hilly Sammamish.

I didn't know what he was talking about, though I did like the way he looked as he leaned into the dashboard to get the fullest view from the windshield. That little boy look. Bill is a rugged, hard working and capable man. Have you seen his beard and his arms? Swoon! But he's never afraid to let his inner child take the wheel now and again. It makes his eyes spark. I leaned into the dash, trying to match his angle. I peered out the window. Small differences, maybe. This was a green and growing place. But mostly it all looked the same to me.

"It's like...like everything feels condensed," Bill said. 

"It doesn't look different to me," I said, and felt apology in my words. We turned up the steep hill leading to his old house, and I remembered him telling me what an epic hill that had been in his youth. Walking down it to go to school, and then having to truck back up again afterward. Navigating it as a new driver. I remembered what a beast it had been during the icy months of our courtship. I tried to see it again as little tussle-haired Bill would at Wyatt's age. Wyatt would be oblivious to the struggle of the nearby cars trying to navigate up or down that scary steep angle. He'd only have eyes for the adventure it meant. 

"You are looking at it with your man eyes!" I said. Bill looked at me. "That's why it doesn't look different to me. I was already grown up and boring when I came here for the first time. You were a kid, here. Your kid eyes remember."

There was a familiar prick in my chest. I once again found myself heartbroken and desperately wanting to care for and protect that little boy inside this man that I love. To be there for him somehow during all he would go through far too young. 

We stopped for a time at the old house. Bill insisted that it, too, looked smaller. I actually thought it might look a little bit bigger than I remembered. I had been so impressed that Bill's family of six...and then five...had beenin that three bedroom rambler together and had never moved. One house for his entire childhood! Imagine!

I pulled out my phone and took some creepy stalker pictures of the place, trying to look non-threatening to the neighbors who were gathered in a clump across the street, visiting. I wanted pictures of this man standing in front of this too-small house where he had been a boy. I wanted to make permanent a little piece of what was going on right now on our little world. Our children, being introduced to the place where their father had been their ages. All of their ages. And my husband. That man I am crazy about. Looking at this place of so much and too much and sometimes not enough. The man and the boy. Looking.

(...more from our trip, to be continued!)