We sit around the table, talking at the same time, each person's voice answering someone else's question, commenting on another's thought. It is a conversation punctuated by laughter, by loud, raucous guffaws, by bursts of bright and glorious hysteria, and I look across the table to see Matt laughing so hard that his eyes scrunch into tiny little slits with wrinkles at the side as he nods his head up and down, up and down, chortling into the hand clenched into a fist at his mouth, which is wide and grinning. Cris has to excuse herself to pee, because when you laugh so hard that you have to pee, and you've already had to pee for about 20 minutes, you know that if you sit at a table for another moment, you will surely wet yourself.
We wake up bright and early to the sound of the baby's cries. We're not used to it, those of us who are not yet parents, and particularly those of us who prefer to use our weekends catching up on sleep. But when I stumble into the living room, my hair a wild mess, and see the little one on the floor, toys already in her mouth, I feel my un-caffeinated self softening a little, waking up by the sheer energy of the amazing little person I'm seeing first thing in the morning. "Don't worry," her father assures her, "Lizzi doesn't talk first thing in the morning. She'll be nice again in a minute." After I brush my teeth and wash my face, I come out of the bathroom and the little one smiles up at me again, hopeful that I will smile back. And I do. And then she lunges for Julie, giggling as she grabs fistfuls of her hair and pulling her towards her so that she can gum on her face with her two shiny new teeth.
I'm in the kitchen now, cooking pasta, chopping vegetables, marinating meat that will later spend some time and then, whoops, it's not done yet!, more time on the grill. "What are we doing in here, hmmm?," Adam moos at me. "London broil. Orzo Salad. Green Beans and Tomatoes," I respond. "Me likes," Adam assures me. I smile as I turn towards my artichoke hearts, waiting to be cut into bite-sized pieces and tossed with parsley and kalamata olives. "Grab me one," Katy calls out to Geoff and he responds in kind, equal parts affectionate and gross, grabbing a beer out of the cooler for himself and Katy. They sit around the table, feeding the baby, keeping the beer bottles out of her reach, talking about talking about talking, and I cook.
We wander into a restaurant in Provincetown, ready to stretch our legs after the hours and hours of traffic heading east. But none of us want to be there, none of us are interested in the overpriced menu, or the food that doesn't sound appealing. So we leave, packaging up the baby and grabbing our bags, and head out to the street, where some of us search for good pizza, others of us eating fried seafood and sandwiches. Adam, who snacked too much on the way down, is hungry for none of it. We are not surprised, we probably all have the same thought that's running through my own head: "that's Adam!" We wander around the town, smiling in the direction of Ellie and the overly tanned and muscled men, thinking that we're all tired and zonked, wondering how J and Cris do it day after day with the little one. We find ourselves in a cool little store and J is impulsive and it makes us all feel a little bit giddy for him and for Cris. They are exceptionally nice watches.
We have been around the world, I think to myself as I watch Matt sleeping. We have been to corners of the earth that we will never see again. "A lot has changed in a year," Matt remarks. And he is right. A lot HAS changed in a year. But here we are, back again, back with each other, back where I cook and Geoff is ridiculous, where Adam eats snacks and Katy talks about artsy things we don't understand. Back where we would give anything, anything at all to know what Julie has to say about us, where J and Cris have done the most amazing thing imaginable and brought this new little creature into our circle, into our lives. We are back in the best part of our world, the part where our family knows us, wants nothing more than to be with us and make fun of us, where we always know we have a place to call home.