Long entry here, just general updates on the past couple days.
Saturday evening before I posted that last entry, I called Debby and John from my motel room, trying to figure out whether I was going to see them. They put Rose on the phone (she's two-and-a-half now, and utterly charming), and that made the decision easy. Unfortunately, my cell phone was getting very little signal, and the wedding party was getting noisy. So I went to Starbucks and posted that last entry.
Then I had a long, good talk with Mary Anne on the phone, in the parking lot of the Starbucks. (Sometime in the middle of that conversation, a big pickup truck zoomed along the whole length of the parking lot, at about 30 mph, backwards. In the dark. Further evidence that there are some crazy drivers in Tacoma.)
Then I called Ellie, and told her the whole story. I hadn't realized that the Shabbat rules let people travel to mourn the dead and comfort people in mourning; I'd have made more of an effort to talk to her before Friday night if I'd known that.
Anyway, all the phone calls were very comforting.
There was a bit of annoyance right at the end of the call with Ellie, when my phone battery ran out; I saw a guy standing nearby who'd just finished making a cell phone call, so I walked up to him (I was fairly nicely dressed, wearing a trenchcoat, holding my phone visibly in one hand) and said, "Hi—I saw you have a cell phone; mine just died, right at the end of my conversation; I was wondering if there's any chance I might be able to use yours to make a one-minute call to Seattle." He stared uncomfortably off into the distance (he wouldn't even look at me) and shook his head—the kind of reaction some people have to crazy homeless people who yell at them in the street, obviously just wishing I would go away. I said, "Then do you happen to know where there might be a pay phone nearby?" He smiled nervously and said, "You'll have to ask them," and gestured vaguely toward the Starbucks. I decided that it was a really good thing that everyone I'd interacted with had been being so nice and gentle toward me for the past few days; normally I would just be mildly annoyed by this kind of thing, but I got really upset at the way he was acting. I'm sure he thought I was some kind of scam artist trying to steal his phone and his identity or something, but sheesh, guy, show a little humanity! Anyway, I realized that I was overreacting, so I didn't snap at him, and eventually I found a pay phone and called Ellie back and finished the conversation.
Spent some more time online; went back to my room around 11:30 and discovered, much to my relief, that the party was over and everything was quiet. Slept fairly well.
Sunday morning I drove up to Seattle. On the way up, I listened to a couple of CDs I'd brought along. Even the happy songs made me cry. (Though I couldn't bring myself to listen to the most joyful song on one of the CDs, Lui Collins's "Blessed"; I wasn't feeling very blessed.) I guess they were just tapping into the well of emotion and bringing up whatever happened to be there. It was good, though I probably should've pulled over to the side of the road for a while to cry rather than continuing to drive.
Before I go on, a quick aside for a bit of backstory that's relevant to the next paragraph: a few years ago, Kam gave me a (birthday?) present that included a set of stylish stick-on mustaches. But I already had a mustache of my own, so I didn't have much use for them. On a previous visit to Seattle, Rose expressed an interest in my mustache, so when Debby was down here last month, I gave her the package of mustaches for Rose.
So on Sunday when I arrived at their house, John and Rose were sitting outside on the porch, and Rose was wearing a totally excellent mustache that fit her perfectly. I have an adorable photo, but I'm not sure whether I can post it; I'll check with Debby & John. Anyway, the four of us went to brunch at "the omelet store" (as Rose calls it) down the block, where the friendly waitress/hostess/owner? was as friendly and cheerful as ever, and the food was as good as always, and the world felt like less of an awful place for a while. Rose showed off for me in that way that little kids have, where they don't want to admit they're showing off but they peek over at you every now and then to make sure you're watching and being impressed. It was exactly what I needed. I had been a little worried that she would ask why I was sad, and I wasn't sure what Debby & John would want me to say; but it didn't come up. We went back to their place after brunch, and I read Rose a couple of picture books. (One thing I'm finding is that doing something nice for someone makes me feel better. I gave some food to a homeless person earlier in the week (possibly at Kam's suggestion? I forget), and more money than usual to another on Sunday, and in both cases their responding smiles were a relief, a reminder that there's still good in the world. And probably a tiny partial antidote to my general sense of powerlessness—a demonstration that I could actually make a tangibly good difference in someone's life in a very immediate way.)
Then I went to Ellie's and talked with her and finally got to meet baby Esther. She's not out of the woods yet but she's doing pretty well, which makes me extremely glad.
Got back to Peter's house in Tacoma about two hours later than planned. Called my cousin Jordan and asked him to come help me out with the last stuff I needed to do. (Jordan has been really helpful through this whole process. As has the rest of the family.) We finished at 6:30 p.m., which was about the latest that I could leave Tacoma and still make my 8:00 flight.
I rushed to the airport, returned the rental car (and had to throw out a bunch of supplies that I'd forgotten to leave with Jordan), scrambled to the checkin counter with four unwieldy bags (three I'd brought with me, plus a plastic garbage bag containing smoke-damaged personal papers and photos), did a fair bit of repacking while standing in line. Finally checked in, only to discover that my flight (thank goodness) had been delayed half an hour, so I had a little room to breathe. (Another unusually good thing about this past week: I mostly haven't been as late as usual getting places, largely because the usual sorts of unexpected delays and problems I often run into when I'm in a rush haven't been materializing.) Went through security, changed out of my soot-covered pants (in an airport bathroom), and ended up with about an hour of spare time because the plane was delayed two or three more times. I sat down and started breathing again, and ate some yummy soup that Ellie had made me take for dinner.
In the airport, people kept looking at me. Eventually I figured out that it was because I was wearing a Google T-shirt (which I'd packed by accident, thinking it was a different shirt). Then when I got on the plane, the guy next to me turned out to be a Google engineer, and I had a moment of dreading two hours of being talked to and quizzed by an extrovert, but luckily for me he was traveling with someone who appeared to be his SO, so they left me alone.
The flight was uneventful. I spent most of it reading Eleanor Arnason's Ring of Swords (note: that review contains some pretty big spoilers about the book's backstory), which I'd grabbed on a whim on the way out the door on Tuesday. It turned out to have been a good choice—far enough distant from the real world to work as escapism, while still being complex and interesting enough to hold my interest. Well-written, too, as one might expect from Eleanor. I'm only about halfway through, but I'm liking it quite a bit so far.
Lola came and picked me up at the airport and took me home, where I discovered that she'd cleaned the whole house—did dishes, threw out the folded-up bags in the cabinet that were covered in mouse droppings, vacuumed, cleaned various bathrooms, put things away, did laundry. And brought flowers, plus a baking dish full of enchiladas from Arthur E. It was really nice to come home to.
(Also nice along similar lines: the previous weekend, before we knew we were going anywhere, Kam painted the insides of my upstairs hall closets and installed shelves. I finally have a linen closet! So cool! I continue to be immensely grateful for how much work various people do on keeping my house in good shape and making it a nicer place to live.)
Today I more or less shut down. I was going to start in on catching up on email and settling back into life around here, but I ended up spending much of the day quasi-napping. Lola was sick and didn't go to work, so under other circumstances it would've been a lovely lazy sunny day of sitting around not doing much. As it was, for me it was more like a lazy day of sitting around trying not to think about anything that's happened in the past week. Just taking a break from it all. There's still quite a bit more to do, several important decisions to be made, people to talk to, arrangements of various kinds to make. Jay wrote an obituary to be published in the Tacoma paper and probably in the Palo Alto paper; I couldn't cope with reading it today, but will try and do so in the morning if he hasn't already sent it off to be published by then. He went to work today, and also managed to do a fair bit of further stuff relating to Peter; I did neither. I don't think I can cope with going back to work just yet.
Oh, and my new Treo 650 arrived today, so after Lola went home I spent some time setting it up. Nicely distracting. Calls to my regular cell phone number should now go to the Treo. So far I like it a lot, but I haven't used it extensively yet.
Oog, it went and got late again. Me for sleep. Thank you all again for the ongoing comments and emails; they continue to sustain me in what remains a very difficult time.