I have learned I am one of those mothers: the kind who moon around like somebody died when her child goes abroad. I missed Sabina last year and I know I'll miss her again when she goes back to school, but there was something appropriate about her departure: she was going to college. She was an adult. She was about to have an experience her father and I had both enjoyed. Even though neither of us went to Oberlin, we felt as if we'd "been there," which made it easier.
But with Agatha it's something completely different. We've known about it for months -- hell, a semester in Japan was my idea. She had been studying Japanese for several years and was in love with all things Japanese. What could make more sense? Her mood improved tremendously once she got accepted into the study abroad program. There was no question it was a good idea all around and I am excited for her, but I am also wispy and fragile like an Edward Gory character struck with the vapors. Oooooh....
For a person barely five feet tall and about ninety pounds, Agatha takes up a lot of space -- both physically and metaphorically. Her bedroom is messy to the point where it looks as if it got "tossed" due to her insistence on a warrant. She is pristine in her footless tights, her hat, her deliberately mismatched socks, but chaos follows her everywhere. She loses things: where is her purse? Her phone? Her glasses? (She may be "gifted," but she is also my child most likely to wander into traffic.) Agatha knows that these items could not possibly be in the place where... you just found them.
It's probably your fault: you must have put them there. Someone put them there.
Also, Agatha is finicky, prickly. Her personal space enters the room at least five minutes before she does. If she's feeling quiet, then the quiet electricity surrounding her makes you want to apologize for breathing. If she's feeling chatty, you will not get a moment's peace from the questions, the questions about your answers, and then, the corrections of your answers to the first question and all follow-up responses.
You may not know this, but I am personally responsible for every show and every ad that is aired on television, and am thus expected to have an explanation whenever something offensive is televised. On Ladies of London one woman used the term "special needs" as an insult. Yes, I agree it was awful. Cringe-worthy. Yes, I'm a fan of Andy Cohen and I realize he is the executive producer. But no, I cannot explain why he allowed that comment to air. Yes, I've written to Rob Kardashian, Mia Farrow and Mandy Patinkin, but I am not going to write to Andy Cohen. If I went after every person who used the term "special needs" as an insult I would have no time to eat, let alone knit and watch Bravo.
When I watch television now, I hear Agatha's objections in my head: much like I hear my dad's running commentary and occasional panic attack when I am driving. I miss her in a way that's disturbingly familiar and I have to remind myself that hello, the kid isn't dead -- she's in Japan.
She's in Japan.
Poor Joanie has been trying to pick up the slack: yesterday I took a nap and brought her up to our bedroom and put her in the bed right next to me.
This is unheard of in Joan's small realm of experiences. I thought for sure Joan would demand to be let out since she's not allowed upstairs in the first place, let alone in Alpha's bed!
Instead she curled up next to me and put her head on my pillow. She's still a puppy and naps for her are brief and frequent affairs. But my Joan stayed glued to me for well over an hour, moving only to snuggle in a bit closer or lick my nose.
I am afraid that Joanie -- Joanie who prides herself on being my dog and who has been known to ignore attention from others if it means leaving my side -- is going to determine that I am "too needy" a human for her to handle. Remember the episode of Friends where Janice tells Ross she can't hang out with him anymore because he's "too whiny?" Like that.
Joanie is smart enough to understand that Agatha is coming back, because she reads the mood of everyone in the house. No one else is mooning or sighing deeply with wrist firmly affixed to forehead. At some point, Joanie is going to decide that my attitude is not commensurate with the situation.
She can't tell me this in words, but she's certainly capable of giving me The Paw.