These gray, January days give me a quiet sense of missing things, especially in the city, where the rain makes all the light run in watercolor shades and the shadows pull down the sun. I drove the regular lot last Friday night: a girl going home from work; a kid picking up his keys at Pizza Hut and talking to me about whether or not he can get into med school; a girl who left her car somewhere the night before after she drank too much, and we’re out looking for it.
I turned off the ridesharing app and swung by my house in time for dinner. I parked along the sidewalk on James Street and looked at our two large windows, lamplight glowing through the still-opened shades. Kids everywhere. Honestly, everywhere. Setting the table, running back and forth to the dining room. This is a house I am very happy to come home to.
We eat dinner. The older kids set up their traditional Friday night sleepover in the living room while I put Leo to bed. He’s very demanding in his song choices: “Good Night, Sweetheart” must be followed by the theme song for “Super Why” followed by Laurie Berkner’s “Moon, Moon, Moon.” I end it by singing that great dirge of death, “There is a river, we must cross over.”
I rocked Poppy Lynne but have no luck. Maile took over. I was back out on the streets for the Friday night shift.
Because I know the family late-night routine so well, because I know the quiet that falls in the house by 11pm, I had a sense as I drove around that the world was asleep.
I drove two couples home at the end of the night, all four of them doctors, or at least in the medical profession. They were at a work party. The four of them talked candidly to each other about the people they spent their evening with. This is always a strange thing, when the people in the car talk as if you are not there. I prefer it that way, but I’m still getting used to it.
They were rather ruthless in their assessments.
I pulled over to drop them off. The man gave me a $10 tip on a $15 fare. I thanked him. I headed back to the city. I thought about Leo, sleeping in his bed, mouth wide open. I thought of Poppy and the way her cold makes her breathing sound when she’s asleep. It’s 1am, and the night has only begun.