Traveling while parenting (juntos pero no revueltos)

Every time I get to New York City, the first thing I want to do, right after I set down my suitcase, is run. INYCt seems like the only appropriate response to a place with so much gorgeous ground to cover, so much energy steaming up through the grates. Twenty minutes after I got off the subway this time around, I was huffing and puffing my way through Central Park in the fresh, sunny sweetness of a spring I hadn’t earned, happy as a clam. The words bouncing through my head like a mantra as my feet slapped Stateside sidewalks were “juntos pero no revueltos. Juntos pero no revueltos.”

Juntos pero no revueltos is an egg-inspired expression: together, but not scrambled. Together, but still independent. It’s used to describe that need for breathing room and independence in a romantic relationship, friendship, or most any situation. It’s been on my mind because I’ve been dreading this trip, only my third of any kind away from you, and the longest. I’ve been dread our un-scrambling, however temporary. 

Because you know what? I’m just a scrambled-eggs kind of girl. It surprised me to learn this when your father first moved in. I’d always thought of myself as a bit of a loner, and I expected to need lots of space. Who knew that I could be so content in another’s company? Who knew that when it came to him, and now you, I would be such a zorro de leña, a fox in a woodpile, a homebody? (Since this might sound like one of those motherly boasts I so despise, I should mention that this doesn’t make me a better wife or mother by any means – arguably the opposite, especially when I one day drop you off at school and bawl in the doorway. It’s just a way of being, and one that surprised me.)

So I dreaded five whole days apart, and then, of course, I had a great time. I walked walks and viewed views and ate the best chocolate cake on Earth. I wandered the aisles of The Strand and slept like a log. I realized how much I miss my country and this extraordinary city that has called my name since I was 20. I unscrambled.

This morning I went for one last run in Riverside Park. I wanted to stay forever, to move our family here. At the same time, I felt the pull of you and of our existing life, as clearly as if you were yanking on the world map from down below, wrinkling the surface of the Earth through sheer toddler insistence, bending the globe so that my sneakers lost their traction and I began to slide.

I stopped at the 91st Street Garden, basking in beauty, and I realized something I hope I won’t forget. Maybe it was the rhythm of the cars on the Parkway, maybe it was the rattling of the subway underfoot, maybe it was my own clumsy breathing. Whatever it was, it made me see that while we might have personal comfort zones, we don’t really choose between scrambled or apart. It’s a heartbeat. One follows the other, over and over. You hug me, tight against my belly, where you first belonged, and then next moment you’re wriggling to the floor like a desperate fish, shouting “How we gonna Play Doh right now?” BoomBOOM. You snuggle into my neck, like when you were tiny, and then arch your back to tell me that it’s time to put you down to sleep all by your lonesome. BoomBOOM. I drop off the edge of our little world into a city you’d find as strange and wonderful as Oz, and then you pull me back again just as quickly, like a yo-yo; the trip seemed eternal at the start, but I know that the moment I lay eyes on you tonight, it will seem like the work of a moment. The blink of an eye. A vision. A dream.  BoomBOOM. BoomBOOM. BoomBOOM.

We are scrambled together; we are apart. It’s not so much a balance as an acceptance that both will come, and go, and come again.

I breathed in the scent of the flowers one more time, wondering what you were thinking at that very moment, what you were touching – you who used to touch only me, you who were a part of me, just like my thudding heart. Revueltos. No revueltos. Revueltos. No revueltos. Revueltos. No revueltos.

That same rhythm drove me forward, and I ran on. I ran south, toward you, toward home. Toward the mists the sun was burning off the Hudson.

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