I sit on Efrem's bed and have a spoonful of granola. Efrem's head rises and he looks at me sleepily. Silas snores quietly next to us. I want the boys to keep me company while I finish my breakfast. In ten minutes I have to leave to catch a train. I talk with Efrem as he comes to his senses, then slide over and rub Silas' back.
"You boys need to be good while I'm gone." I say. "Try to help mommy out a little extra."
Silas' response is hilarious, "Okay, I'll try and eat as much spaghetti as possible."
I guess that's how daddy helps out around the house, at least in the eyes of a six year old. I finish my breakfast and they get out of bed. The boys crowd around the sink as I brush my teeth, trying to savor our moments before I left.
Efrem decides to make conversation, "Daddy, where'd you buy that toothbrush?"
I can only mumble back, because I can't talk while I brush my teeth. It's a running controversy at our house, whether it's better to brush your teeth with your mouth open or closed. May brushes mouth open, I brush mouth closed, mainly because if I try the former toothpaste falls all over everything. She is somehow even able to keep the suds in her mouth under complete control.
I give everyone hugs as I went out the door. I love my family. I don't like to be away. The number three bus stops right beside our apartment and goes within a short block from the train station. A couple beside me on the bus speak in Spanish. An older man, who is dressed to look distinguished, has one eyebrow hidden behind his glasses while the other peers blatantly above the frame.
Inside the train station huge billboards advertise a new movie, Beowulf. I remember reading extracts in high school, but don't remember the story. My train is delayed an approximate 30 minutes. I get out my ticket to see how much time I have to change stations in Paris. I arrive at Montparnasse and leave from the East Station, a fairly long jaunt on the metro. I was to have over an hour, but now it might be tight. We wait and wait on the platform. It's cold and I put on my gloves. The announced 35 minute delay grows longer. Finally, the train pulls out 55 minutes late. Catching my next train will be impossible. This is not a day for impatience.
From Paris I call and leave a message for my friend who's picking me up. I arrive in Basel over two hours past my original time, but where's my friend? I wait a half hour. Still no sign. With I sigh I pull out some Swiss Francs I was hoping to exchange for Euros and find a pay phone. Brad picks up and says, "hello." Just as I say my name I hear a click. I try to call again and get a message in German. What do I do? I stand looking at the phone as if it might answer. I wait. Then it rings. "Hello?" I answer. Brad's voice is on the line. He's been stuck behind an accident for forty minutes. A semi caught fire right in front of him. This is not a day for impatience. I barely dig my bag of almonds out of my backpack when Brad drives up. It is really good to see him.
Now I'm sitting on the bed of the Villa Umbach in Kandern. I'm here for an internet ministry conference, just a short day and a half. It's weird to be back. It's so familiar, but still different. They've repaved the main street and put in brick cobblestone sidewalks. I was buying gaskets for our coffee maker at the kitchen store, and when I asked if they had any more she said she'd get more next Thursday. I guess she didn't notice I hadn't been in for almost a year, and it was too complicated to explain in German that I don't live here anymore. I said "hi" to some good friends, wished Rick a happy birthday and looked around his art factory. Melissa showed me the old office space we shared, which now serves as her apartment. Everyone said it seemed just like old times to have me here. Old times. Where does time go?