Textbook by Amy Krause Rosenthal

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“A Japanese term (pronounced mo-nah noh ah-WAH-ray) meaning an awareness of the impermanence of all things and a wistful, gentle sadness at their passing.”

Sooty the cat is curled in a basket on the kitchen table, right beside a basket of fruit. I wish I could show you. I mean, there are ways to show you, but that would involve a long list of moves I don’t want to do right now. I want to keep sitting in this chair at the kitchen table, writing to you. But this dichotomy of cat and fruit, both baskets full, is sweet and necessary, and distracting. You should see it. The fruit is a mundane lot, your typical apples and pears, many of which will rot before a child decided the pulp is worth the effort of the skin. And the oranges, I bought those for myself because I thought they’d be nice to peel and munch while I sit at my desk in the waning afternoon, a break before I leave the office and head out for the hours and hours and hours of driving I’m obligated to do in service to my children’s happiness. No, no, I’m happy to, really. Earlier this afternoon, I had five boys in the car, two of them mine, and I turned and looked over the rim of my sunglasses that I think are cool and my boys do not (I love looking over the rim of my sunglasses, I always think of my dad and the way he demonstrates how his mother used to look at him and his siblings over the rim of her sunglasses to keep them from being outrageous while the family traveled somewhere in the car) and I said, “I saw you on that street corner and you looked like a bunch of hooligans and I thought to myself, ‘That’s a crowd I want to avoid,’ and now look, you’re all in my car!” One of them was kind enough to chuckle. I’m really settling in to this embarrassing mother role that seems to be my lot. Even the eight-year-old, when he isn’t passionately attached to my elbow in an effort to keep me within reach at all times, finds me to be a liability at key points. We all have to be something, though, yes? And this apparently is my niche. Being embarrassing. And being forgetful. I’ve taken to forgetting my phone more than usual. I think it is my small form of running away, of fleeing the restraints of glorious family life, just for a day. I leave my phone on the kitchen table, in the fruit basket, in the other coat, on the charger and for a few hours I can pretend there are no obligations beyond the care and feeding of just me. But then, upon reunion, I discover a series of messages from boys who are texting into the void and I realize, embarrassment is not my only role. These lost boys, they need their rides home, and so do their friends.

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