The 7th grade band and chorus concert/Disneyland trip has a price tag: $200+, a trip to Walgreen's for the carry-on snacks and Rachel's excitement driving us crazy for a whole week prior to the BIG DAY. That was today.
I woke her up at 4:30AM. She arose like an angel, her happy little face barely illuminated by the bathroom light filtering into her still night-darkened room. I wondered who this pleasant creature was. She was fully dressed and fixing her hair probably 8 seconds later. I slipped into her room and stashed a little note into her bag for her to find later. We shared a couple of toaster strudels, licking the icing from our fingers while keeping an eye on the clock. I asked her if she had her concert shoes packed - she said she did. So I told her about my dream last night where she got there and discovered she had forgotten her black shoes, and had to wear her tennis shoes instead. Ha ha.
4:48AM we are standing by the open trunk of the car. I ask her again, "Are you sure you have everything?" She said yes. We left for the school with the windows down. The air was chilly and fresh. I told her about the fun I had going on band trips like this with her two older brothers. I told her I was sorry I wasn't going on this trip with her, but she was going to have a lot of fun.
Three huge tour buses were idling full blast in the back parking lot, their multiple yellow contour lights blazing like a mobile Las Vegas - surly an omen of good things to come! Back-pack bedecked kids were scrambling everywhere, lugging a horn case or greeting friends. Rachel raced to the band room to collect her flute and sheet music. Maybe they wouldn't be waiting for the one kid who didn't wake up on time. Rachel barely held still for me to kiss her good bye. A final "have fun!" was about all I could say and she had bolted into the happy confusion.
What a relief. I was glad I wasn't going. I set the kitchen timer to wake me up about an hour and a half later to get Asia to school, and settled on the couch.
After waking Asia up, I turned to leave the bedroom. There, hanging crisply on the door handle, was a nicely pressed white blouse. In a flash several things exploded in my head: a devastated Rachel face at about 3 o'clock this afternoon, the scene of our 'check-list' last night to make sure she had everything, me flooring the rented red mustang to catch up to a tour bus with a 2 hour head start...
I called the band teacher's cell phone number listed on the itinerary. I just couldn't believe it; I heard myself leaving her a message that this was my mistake because Rachel had put it on the front of the door but I had switched the blouse to the back of the door to close it when they went to bed - it was all my fault. You can't see the blouse very well on the back of the door like that. Rachel doesn't normally forget anything, she was going to be very disappointed - but please point out to her that the top she's wearing now is mostly white and from on stage the little yellow flowers won't show at all and it will be fine...
With all my life experience at this point, all of it; tragedy, intrigue, miracles and pains, the horror I felt that the blouse had been forgotten was excruciating. I literally had to concentrate on breathing slowly, and busy myself with dishes or something to calm down. I tried not to think about Rachel feeling self-conscious at the band concert. I knew she would be fine. I knew it was just a simple mistake.
Nevertheless, I went back in there and grabbed the blouse a little too quickly, and hung it up in their closet. I could feel my teeth gritting together when hanger met rod. Now it was just an anonymous article of clothing among so many others. There was nothing special about it.
I turned my back on it and went away.
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