As I have mentioned a few times (or so), my birthday is coming up. I’m planning a big party and looking forward to it. T was a little taken aback by the number of invitations I sent out:
T: How many people did you invite?
E: Oh, quite a few.
T: Give me a number.
T: What ?!? I was thinking about 12 or 15 would be enough.
E: Well, I have a lot of friends and I didn’t even invite everyone. Plus, usually only half the number you invite actually come to the party, so maybe we’ll have 60. That’s not so bad.
But, I would trade every invitation for just one visit from my daughter.
I have been cherishing a secret hope, and no doubt in vain, that she will magically turn up at the party and spend the weekend with us. I keep thinking that it will play out like a sit-com surprise party: The party will be humming along and then all of a sudden there is a hush and someone yells, “Hey, Zoe’s here!” Everyone cheers! The mom cries tears of joy! I would be just about the happiest I could be if that actually happened.
A few weeks ago T asked me what I wanted for my birthday. She said, “I can’t afford to fly Zoe out for your birthday, and I know that’s what you really want, but is there something else?” There isn’t really. All I could come up with was a new bath pillow.
I have asked Zoe several times if she could come out for the party. Even just for the weekend – leave Friday and return Sunday. She says no. She has consistently said no.
So, in the face of all this rational behavior and consistently negative answers to the question, why do I persist in this futile hope that the daughter will be coming this weekend? The common sense part of my brain accepts the fact that she won’t be there. And, when friends ask if she’ll be there I give them a regretful no. I know that she won’t be there. I really do know that. But….
Deep in my heart there is that ridiculous hope. The hope that T and Zoe have planned it all out and that it is going to be the biggest and best surprise in the world. T will say something like, “I have to run some errands, I’ll be back in an hour.” I’ll be doing an ordinary party prep kind of thing like preparing hors d’oeuvres. I’ll hear the car pull into the driveway and then two car doors slam instead of one. Hmm. That’s funny. Then as I hear footsteps on the front porch there is the sound of voices, two voices. Who is T talking with? Then the key in the lock and then her voice, “Hi Mama! Surprise! Happy Birthday!” We’ll all be grinning like fools, I’ll be dancing around and jumping up and down crying out, “Yay, Yay, Yay! Zoe’s here!” and hugging her like mad.
Or maybe it plays out like this: T has been getting some mysterious phone calls and text messages. She doesn’t tell me who it is. Or maybe she tells me it’s her coworker, Michelle. Then, after one particular message, she jumps up and says, “Get your shoes on, we’ve got to run to the store.” I will say, “Oh, you go ahead. I’ve got stuff to do here.” “No, you have to come. I need your input on something.” So, I’ll go with her and then we’ll pass the store and I’ll say, “Hey, where are you going?” “We have one other stop to make.” “Where?” “You’ll see” Then, we take the road to the airport. Zoe will be waiting at the curb. Tears will well up in my eyes and I’ll say “What the…? Is that Zoe? When did you two plan this out? Thank you, thank you, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou….”
I could spin any number of possible scenarios involving the Kid coming for a visit. I have done so.
It’s pathetic. I know that. That’s why I haven’t told anyone that I am cherishing this secret hope in the deep, labyrinthine part of my heart. It’s juvenile. It’s embarrassingly needy. It’s downright contrary to keep hoping for something that you know good and goddamn well isn’t going to happen.
But, come on, you can’t blame me for hoping...