I’ve recently started a pretty intimate relationship with someone new.
It happens twice a day, sometimes three. I could do it all day, but 5 minutes is heaven too. I look forward to it the minute I drop the kids off at school.
It’s not with another man, it’s with my minivan.
The day begins like this: The kids and I leave the house late for school. We argue in the parking lot, I comb their hair with my fingers and double-check for hats and mittens. They will have none, even if they left the house with some.
Next we negotiate the crosswalk. Invariably we all decide to cross at the exact different moment. Several other minivans in carline are trying to judge if I can see the child I’ve lost and if I’m going after him or if I’m going to herd the one closest to me.
Inside the school, I finally bid them adieu. As in, I look up and they are gone. “Why do I keep walking you in?” I ask. “You don’t even say good-bye to me!”
“You like to, remember?” they say.
“Yes,” I say. “Love to.”
Then, in 5 minutes, the chaos is over. They are shuffled into their rooms and I head back out to the parking lot. The oldest not only didn’t let me kiss him goodbye, he took a swing at my head with his backpack to disguise the fact that I leaned toward him face-first. I’m, in a word, pissed.
Enter the minivan.
I slide into the front seat, shut the door. I lay my head back on the rest and recover from the “backpack incident.” It’s me and my minivan, alone at last.
I check my rearview mirror. No one. I check the backseats, no one and a pair of mittens. I run my fingers through my own hair now, take one more look in the mirror and notice I look half hungover (I swear, I am not) but half decent. Most of all, there is silence, held in by metal and bolts and door locks.
The affair can begin.
I get out my cell phone. I check messages. I check Facebook. I click on a link to the newest books out this week. I read a little review. I think about buying the book even.
I text delightful repertoire with other moms sitting in other minivans in other parking lots at other schools.
I keep my head down at all costs; eye contact is deadly. If a passing truck takes off my bumper, I will not look up. I am in the minivan space and, I do believe, invisible.
Each morning it’s like this. It’s only 5 minutes, but they’re all mine. Later today I might find myself in my new relationship again after groceries. Or after a meeting or after a run. Some days it’s before the run. Yes, it’s starting to take precedence over everything I do.
I’ve tried to break up. Really, I have. It’s bad for me, I know. It’s a waste of time, sitting in a parking lot, getting nothing done, precious minutes, day after day.
But is it? I mined three good comebacks out of a single rendezvous just this week. And I can easily credit remembering everyone’s 2012 birthday to those 5 minutes of silence (and Facebook) each day. Not to mention the sins I’ve not committed because this one is so satisfying.
So, let’s face it. Next time you see me in the minivan going nowhere, just keep walking. I’m busy, I’m working, I’m otherwise engaged. Also, I’m invisible.
It appears that this affair isn’t ending anytime soon.