One night last week at dinner I asked North, “What’s the title of your one act?”

“The Accident,” they replied. That seemed a bit on the nose, as Beth’s been in Wheeling for the past ten days, taking care of her mother in the wake of her fall at Blackwater.

Out with the Old

Beth drove us from the cabin back to Takoma three days after Christmas and then stayed at home for a few days while her three aunts cared for her mom. 

We squeezed a lot in the last few days of the year. We all had breakfast at the newly opened Koma Café and went to the movies twice, seeing Wonka and The Boy and the Heron. Beth grocery shopped for us. On New Year’s Eve, North slept over at a friend’s house, Noah stayed up with pretzel chips, ice cream, and sparkling grape juice to watch the ball drop, and Beth and I were in bed before ten, where we listened to illicit fireworks going off a mile away in a playground near North’s old elementary school. (We had a good idea where it was happening because people often set off fireworks there.)

In with the New

The morning of New Year’s Day, I stood on the porch and watched as our car disappeared up the road. I’d sent Beth off with a little container of black-eyed peas and smoked Gouda I’d made the night before because it did not seem like the right year for any of us to skimp on luck. My walk that morning took me by the playground and sure enough it was littered with spent fireworks and the empty boxes that had contained them. It seemed kind of a melancholy sight.

When she left, Beth wasn’t sure how long she was going to stay in Wheeling, but early in her visit, her mom fell again and broke her foot in three places, and she still has a lot of back pain from the original fall, so it could be a while.  Beth and her brother (who lives in Seattle) are going to work out a schedule of who will be staying with her for the next several weeks.

Winter One Acts

Tuesday I was back to work, and Wednesday North was back to school. There were rehearsals for the one acts on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which was opening night. Thursday was the first rehearsal that all the actors in North’s play attended, even though they’d been rehearsing since early December.

The one acts were performed on Friday and Saturday night. Noah and I were originally planning to go on Saturday, but there was supposed to be snow, and we didn’t know if the second night would be rescheduled if it was cancelled, so we decided to go Friday just in case. (The snow ended up being an hour of flurries late Saturday morning that never stuck followed by a whole afternoon and evening of rain, but better safe than sorry.)

There were five plays performed, two of which were student-written. In a strange coincidence, there was a lot of thematic overlap. Three of them were about the theater, one about a playwright struggling with writers’ block (with potential characters appearing on stage and then being deleted) and two about performances. The play North directed, titled as you may recall, “The Accident” has a play within a play and there are accidents on both levels of the plot. The principal one is that because the person bringing the set and props to the theater is in a car accident, they play must go on without them. It was funny and well done. I would have never known the actors had not rehearsed it all together until the day before opening night if North hadn’t told me.

As we were walking out of the school North asked which play was my favorite, “besides mine.” At first, I said “Hidden Depths,” a sensitive student-written piece about a bullied high school student with home troubles, but then I remembered “Removing the Glove,” about a society which is biased against left-handers, in a not-so-subtle and funny metaphor for homosexuality. (Also, kind of perfect for us personally because the only cisgender heterosexual person in our little family is left-handed.) It would be hard to choose a favorite, really, because they were all good. 

It was a fun evening, and we were all sorry Beth had to miss it. North shot a video of their play from the wings to show her when she gets home. I’d include it here, but it’s copyrighted. North also saved a copy of the program to give to Beth before she watches it to increase the verisimilitude of the experience.

In the Lyft, on the way home, I started to feel nauseated. I do get carsick sometimes, especially in the back seat, so I thought that was it, but it didn’t pass when we got home. It took me a while to figure out it was probably low glucose. I’d forgotten to take my meds with dinner, which was a slice of pizza, and I spiked on it and then crashed. The thing is, I don’t usually feel anything at all when my blood sugar goes high or low, but it did happen once before, when I ate too much of Noah’s graduation cake and then crashed last May. What seems most relevant is that the rise and subsequent fall is rapid. It’s unfortunate that this symptom of low blood sugar makes it seem impossible to eat. But going to sleep works for me, because when you sleep, your liver releases stored glucose. I briefly woke a couple hours after I went to bed, and I felt fine.

Other Amusements and Occupations

Speaking of food, in addition to the play, North has been keeping busy with baking projects. They made a cranberry cake with lavender frosting (using culinary lavender they got for Christmas) and a batch of chocolate-chip almond butter cookies, freezing a sample of each for Beth. Both were excellent.

We also watched a couple movies (The Menu and Insidious) Beth would not enjoy because of scariness or violence. And over the course of several days, Noah and I took the Christmas decorations down. I removed the Christmas card display and boxed up the Santas and nutcrackers and other Christmassy knickknacks while he dismantled the Christmas village and took down the inside lights and the evergreen ropes (carefully unwrapping the wire that held it together so it could go in the yard waste). It was a week after New Year’s Day before he pulled the candy cane lights out of the ground and we were done, except for the wreath, which I decided to leave up a bit longer, and the rest of the outside lights, which we usually leave up all winter.

Spring Musical

There wasn’t much of a break between Winter One Acts and preparations for the spring musical. Dance auditions for Beauty and the Beast were Monday evening. When I picked North up, I asked how it went and they said they didn’t know. They’d gotten a migraine and had used all their good meds for the week on the weekend one act performances, so they’d had to audition with it. When they emerged from the auditorium, I’d been waiting in the lobby for fifteen minutes, so I knew it had been loud in there, with “Be Our Guest” playing over and over and a lot of high-spirited cheering.

“I’m dying,” they informed me. “I think I’m dead.” But once we were in the Lyft, they put on their headphones and closed their eyes and almost as soon as we were home, they were in bed for the night.  Like me two days earlier, they found relief in sleep.

Acting/singing auditions were supposed to be Tuesday, but there was an early dismissal because of a rainstorm with high winds and potential for flooding, so North was home by one p.m. It ended up being lucky for them because they got another migraine that afternoon and they still weren’t eligible to take any of the good meds. 

Dispatches from Wheeling

All this time I’ve been texting a lot with Beth, and we all FaceTimed a couple times.  We got to see her for the longest time since she’s been gone today in a virtual family therapy session. It was nice to look at her face for an hour.

Meanwhile, there’s been a little progress. YaYa’s pain is slowly decreasing, and her doctor has approved a walker and some other assistive devices for her house that might help make it easier to get around. She’s going to see a physical and an occupational therapist. Plus, Beth’s brother arrived from Seattle on Tuesday. He can only stay a couple days, but then he’ll be back about a week later, and the tentative plan is for Beth to come home then, either for good or for a visit. If she goes back to Wheeling, she might take Noah with her so she has another pair of hands.

Tomorrow is our anniversary, thirty-two years since we had our commitment ceremony in our apartment in D.C. with friends and family in attendance, and eleven years since we were legally married in our living room with our first and sixth grader there to witness it. Although I wish we could be together to celebrate, I can wait. After all, we sometimes joke we were engaged for twenty-one years. Beth’s where she needs to be, and we have practice being patient.