When I was a senior in high school I had a serious case of the last times.
As in can I go to Nikki’s because it is the last time we’ll be together on a Tuesday in fall? Can I go to the lake with Tiffany because this is the last time the three of us will be together in bathing suits? Can I go to Ben and Jerry’s and then to a movie with Cathy, Ben, Alex, Jessan and Michael because this is the last time we’ll ride together in Alex’s Hyundai before they pave the road to Pineville and we have to take the highway and Alex’s car won’t go fast to enough to drive on the highway…so can I go, please?
And so it went for the entirety of my senior year. My parents, who began to make merciless fun of me every time I uttered the words last time, would just mutter “Go!” and I would scamper out the door before they changed their minds.
“Be home by 11!” they’d say.
Yes, I was a high school senior who went out of for ice cream and had to be home by 11. Even though my parents said later they thought I was up to no good, I really was at the ice cream shop most of the time I said I was going. Sorry to disappoint, I really was kind of dork that way. But I had really good friends and the thought of leaving them the following fall felt weighted in a way I didn’t quite know how to express so I didn’t want to miss any swim party or mall trip. I didn’t want to miss a thing.
This year I’ll celebrate my 20-year high school reunion. I hope like hell to get back to South Carolina to see some of those people I haven’t seen in years. And I’ll arrive there in fall hopefully having just recovered from another case of the last times.
Tonight is the last time our little family will be together on our five acres for we don’t know how long. Seth is taking our daughters to Oregon tomorrow for another rendition of grandparent camp. They’ll ride horses at his mom’s house while we pack our books and haul our couch into storage. We are moving into an apartment, all 282 square feet of it, so Seth can return to grad school. Sitting here, looking at my house all put together with not a single box in sight, it seems a little absurd. It seems unbelievably absurd.
We walked through the pasture tonight catching the last of the setting sun. Lucille wore her sister’s boxer briefs and high tops, Eliza wore a towel around her waist like a sarong. I watched the summer tips of their hair turn golden and wondered when I’d see them again with a backdrop of mountains behind them, green turning brown in late summer.
We took a family selfie in the pasture and looking at it I thought how tiny my daughters still seem. I looked at the lines around my eyes and couldn’t help but think of a Lucinda Williams song. Too many Western summers, I suppose. As we put our daughters to bed under the canopy of artificial stars reflected on the ceiling from Lucille’s unicorn pillow pet night light I thought about the four of us lying there for the last time in our farmhouse.
The last time. At least for a while.