Ruby is in St. Louis, and I am more or less bereft.
I love summer – but summers are hard. Not just because it’s hot and humid and hurricanes loom big in our consciousness, but also because routine is shot and camp is expensive and – most important – Ruby is gone.
Not “gone” in a bad sense, really, not for her.
First she goes to three weeks of her self-described “happy place,” Camp Point Clear, where I only get to communicate with her via my daily neurotic emails and her hasty postcards (“Lilly is a Seagull! Send stamps!”), and I subsist on a diet of camp emails detailing their field trips and nightly activities and menus, along with a sampling of pictures for me to scour for a glimpse of my daughter and then subsequently overanalyze.
Then she spends the rest of the summer in St. Louis with her dad where, again, she has a blast. So far, she’s been to the pool, played with puppies, visited with cousins, eaten herself sick on gimmicky donuts, slammed other girls around at roller derby camp (roller derby name: Ruby Bruiseday), and made batch after batch of slime.
She misses me, but she’s busy. She’s catching up with her dad. It’s important to her, and I understand that, and at least while she’s there, we can text and talk and FaceTime.
It’s just hard, not having her around, because she’s not only my daughter; she’s my buddy.
I accepted a new job recently (working for my beloved alma mater, Ben Franklin High School), and it was incredibly daunting to make that decision without Ruby’s input. I feel a pang every time I go to Starbucks without Ruby there to buy a $6 “butterbeer Frappuccino” off the secret menu she saw on YouTube (it’s a crème-based Frappuccino with two pumps of Cinnamon Dolce, two pumps of Caramel, and two pumps of Toffee Nut; it makes my teeth hurt, but it’s oddly delicious). We’re going through so much less ponzu sauce with her gone, and that makes me sad because she and I can easily demolish a bottle in two weeks. I can’t even bring myself to watch the old Robert Stack “Unsolved Mysteries” or “Queer Eye” or “Nailed It” because those are our shows.
Not long ago, I was sitting with my friend and fellow mom having a glass of wine while our combined four kids ran screaming around her house. It was the one week of summer that I had Ruby here in town, and she and Georgia hadn’t really started full-on bickering yet. It was such a pleasant, warm night with the sun still up at 8 p.m. and the air full of the scents of rain and night-blooming jasmine, my wine glass sweating in my hand.
“I love summer,” I said contentedly. “I’m not ready for school to start.”
“Are you nuts?” she said, bringing me out of my romantic reverie and back to earth with a crash. “I am already done with summer.”
I wasn’t, not then.
But now, with three-and-a-half weeks left to go, I am.
Be gone, summer. Bring me back my kid.