We went out for dinner on Saturday night, just us as it is every night, except Virginia put on lipstick, Enrico changed his pants, and I wore earrings. “I like your cheetah dress,” Diana said to Virginia, as she climbed into the car with her sparkly sandals on.
All along Wisconsin toward Georgetown, restaurants had claimed the parking lane with tents and string lights, turf and potted plants, spreading themselves outward for as long as they can, until winter comes. Fire lamps and concrete medians made space for wooden tables and white napkins. Green lattice and plastic flowers tied to metal dividers turned blacktops into parklets.
In the spare restaurant that had once been packed with tables, we were only six, not seven. Our oldest daughter is at college. Next year Virginia will go too. Little by little they will leave. This is the way of the world.
If I live to be 100, my life has already passed its fullest point. One day big cars, trampolines, and jumbo farm shares will no longer be needed. One day our house will not groan from the weight of bodies climbing all over it. One day there will be no college essays to edit, Instagram accounts to monitor, colors to stitch together in the calendar patchwork. That will go threadbare too.
I am grateful to have held this fullness.
After dinner, we drove back home in the dark. A city bus that said Fair Shot lumbered away from the curb and headed past us down the hill.
The wind blew, helping the trees shed their leaves.
At home, I took off my earrings to get ready for sleep. This life of clasping children is waning, but another life is growing. I feel myself spilling out from the center inside. There is no end to this fountain. It always quenches, it always knows.
When I climb into bed, my body is tired, my back aches. I feel my bones lightening with invisible catacombs of air. My cheeks sink. Parts of me that were once fertile are now suspected of harboring disease.
But I know there is nothing that needs to be added to me. I have always had everything I needed.
The rest of my journey will be for emptying what I have collected. Until the day I leave, blind and nameless, through the same blackness from which I came.