My kids are out of town and I miss them. This has been a crazy summer for us - we've been apart a great deal, which isn't our normal. My kids are teenagers, so this is "age appropriate" - but I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel weird.
They have traveled with classmates and been to camp. I have traveled for my new and terribly exciting job. Even so, we are managing - thanks to technology - to stay connected and aware of eachother's goings on. Thank goodness.
Because we are rarely home all together, our routines are disrupted. In some ways, this is a good thing. We appreciate eachother more and connect more deeply when we are together. But in other ways, we are missing out on the things we love. Most notably - Oreland Pizza.
I am not really proud of the amount of time and money that we spend there, but over the years, I have come to rely heavily on OP for a fast, healthy, affordable dinner that is always served with a smile. Oreland Pizza is a constant in our lives - not just because we love their food, but because of the relationships we have been so fortunate to build with the staff. When my son's scooter was stolen from outside the shop, every employee searched the neighborhood. When my sister died last summer, they didn't judge when I watched Braveheart on their TV and cried all afternoon. When I was in a car accident, the manager reached out to see if we were all ok.
Oreland Pizza is a big part of who we are as a family. So I wasn't surprised when Milton, the manager, texted me yesterday to ask how I was holding up without the boys. "Missing you," it read. "You despair."
The thing you need to know about Milton is that English is not his first language. He was born in Guatemala and has a fantastic story about how he came to live in America. While he doesn't always get the right word in English, Milton is always spot on when it comes to the concept. He was trying to say - he told me later - that we "disappeared." It had been a while since any of us had been in the shop.
But Milton was right in that I do despair - or at least I was in the moment that I read his text. I missed the boys deeply and missed the community that collectively share in the neighborhood AND at Oreland Pizza.
Despair is a really strong word, I know. And not one to throw around lightly. But being without one's community is hard - even when you know they will be back on Wednesday.
The word "despair" is Latin and the literal translation is "down from" (de) "hope" (sperare). As a student of Latin, I latch on to the word HOPE in this word - even though most others just see the despair. I do despair (a little) that the boys are away and that we aren't having much time to be together. But I also hope. I hope that our time apart is helping us to be a little kinder to eachother and the people with whom we interact. I hope that we are all learning a lot. I hope that these experiences will make it easier for all of us when the moment comes for us to live apart all the time. I hope that the experience we are having will make us better people. And I really hope that when the boys come home from their mid-west sojourn on Wednesday that we will all have dinner at Oreland Pizza while we share our stories of growth and learning with eachother and with Milton.