Natali bent down and cried a little when she said goodbye to the Lorax. They have lived together for two years and won't see each other until October. My ex made a point of not inviting me inside, instead insisting on being friendly enough outside her house. Andreas was already inside, so he didn't get to say goodbye to his brother, and probably didn't care. I talked for a while with my ex, while the Lorax looked at her dogs and wondered aloud where Natali had gone to. It was like he knew she was more gone than when she usually disappears from sight.
I get to spend one more day with them, when I get off from work after this weekend, but the Lorax will head back to Milwaukee with his grandmother tomorrow.
I took Christian for a walk around downtown La Crosse. He marvelled at the same things Natali and Andreas did five years ago, when we first moved here. It's such a beautiful, cool night here; the Lorax shrieked as he chased sticks down the little stream that flows from one of the statues. He got too excited and stepped in the little river, just as his brother did 4 years ago.
I could have cried, but I haven't yet. The Lorax sleeps with his grandmother and I just got back from a run. I planned to go running around town and to thicken the nostalgia I ran around the hospital where we used to live. Many of the houses were hit by a tornado this spring and ours is marked with a neon orange box. Some houses have x's inside the boxes, and they seem to be condemned, but ours had a family moving in. It struck me that the new interns are probably starting next week.
I snuck around the back and almost couldn't breathe as I looked into our old kitchen. Birthdays with the kids, our first Christmas in La Crosse, my early romance with the Girl, the kids running out the back door; it all came back to me. It felt so close, like I could reach back in time and walk in there to a life that resembled normalcy.
I could see the bedroom ceiling and imagined all our things on the floor. I imagined waking up there with the Girl on a warm summer morning, listening to the birds outside.
It's an end of an era. Natali has been a light in my life these last two years and she has been a major positive force in Christian's life. She is very proud of what she has accomplished in Denmark and talks about keeping a similar lifestyle in La Crosse. I hope she succeeds.
Now that she is gone, there are a few positives. I will have more time for Christian and the Girl, not to mention the new baby. Natali and the Girl have a step-mother, step-daughter relationship that I don't understand. Seeing their disagreements move into the background will be nice.
But even with a myopic focus on the positives, I am already counting down the days till we move back here.