The Other Room

You were in the other room Snapchatting (or as Mythili loves to say, “Snapcrapping”) when I went through the calendar with the rest of the family and your grandparents, pulling up all the details of each day of our trip.

You were in the other uncleaned room when I spent all those hours sifting through the piles of books with every last detail about the history, the must-sees, the hidden gems, of Spain and Portugal.

You were in the other room ignoring your sisters when I agreed to take one of your closest friends, someone with a restricted diet and a whole other level of stress every time we walk into a Spanish-speaking-only restaurant, on our trip with us for 17 days.

You were in the other room bingeing on Netflix when I carefully sifted through endless websites to find the best apartments, the best hotels, the best attractions, and most importantly of all, the best damn price that anyone could ever expect to pay for six weeks, family of five plus, on the Iberian Peninsula, dead summer.

You were in the other room sleeping like an angel when I used to wake up at 4:15 a.m. and ride my bike thirteen miles each way, in the dark, in the snow, in the sleet, and in the wind, just so that we could continue to live the way we lived when our second car broke down.

You were in the other room, watching Dora because cable companies don’t know how to cancel, when we had dial-up Internet and no cell phones and didn’t go out to eat more than twice in a year. For five years.

You were in the other room, the room of your childhood, when every last one of your friends got put in a daycare drama, when you got to sleep in and spend your mornings making candy with Daddy, going to the park, befriending the neighbors, and being as free as a child could be.

I was in the other room when you said to your father today, “I’m going to the store with them. They’re getting her an iPhone 8 even though they’re poorer than us. See?”

I was in the other room, sweeping and mopping and vacuuming and scrubbing after eleven people trashed my house, when you went to your sleepover.

I was in the other room, budgeting and grading papers for my second job so I could give you the gift of Iberia, TWICE, and I didn’t hear the tone, but I sure as hell could replay it like a flagged football fumble in my mind.

I was in the other room, the one in my mind where I have a family who loves to travel with me, and would take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, to plan a moment of it, and fill the room with love and excitement and gratitude instead of criticizing every last detail down to the cost that I have kept well within my three-years-of-planning budget.

I was in the other room, riding my bicycle, skiing down the slope, hiking to the peak, swimming in the turquoise sea, speaking Castellano, wishing for one goddamn moment that what I did, what I tried to offer you, actually mattered. Wishing for one goddamn moment that one of you, just one, liked the same things I liked, wanted to see the world, wanted to climb that peak or sail down that curvy slope at thirty miles per hour, or drive just a bit farther to see the best sights.

We were in separate rooms.

We are in separate rooms.

And I don’t even know where to begin finding the key to the lock that will open the door to the room where you have enclosed yourself.

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