I went to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t miss my children.
How’s that for an inflammatory first sentence? Maybe I should rephrase that: I went to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, all by myself: no spouse, no children. It was, officially, a business trip, and the business was thoroughly enjoyable — a couple of writing-related gigs. In between them, I had some time to myself. And so I explored the city. I ate gumbo and collard greens at the Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax. I wandered around West Hollywood (although I never made it to the famed shops of Rodeo Drive). I read the names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (never found Michael Jackson’s star, although my hosts assured me it was right around the corner). I went kayaking, and saw seals and sea lions. I went out for lunches and dinners on my own and with friends; lunches and dinners during which I cut up no one’s food and accompanied no one to the bathroom. I spent a full day cycling from Marina del Ray to Manhattan Beach and back again, all the way to Venice (and stupidly sunburned the backs of my hands, exposed to the sun for hours). And when I got tired, I napped on the beach.
I also got sick — picked up a whopper of a cold on the flight out west. How strange, to be sick and yet to feel so good, to go back to bed on a Saturday morning and nurse my stuffy nose, guilt free. No one woke me up.
My children were at home, happy as ever in their routines and well taken care of by Rachel. I talked to them a few times, and they seemed fine. I talked about them a lot — everyone I met wanted to know about them: how old they were, what they liked to do, whether I missed them.
And, I mean, really: what was to miss? It had been a long winter in Thunder Bay; the Friday before I left, we were blessed with a massive snowstorm. I needed sunshine and warm weather, but more importantly I needed a break from the daily grind of being at least partially responsible for children. I needed a few days of being selfish, of listening to NPR instead of Top 40 hits in the car, of figuring out the day’s plans based on what made me happy and not upon what would amuse and tire out the under-10 set. And, by golly, if it meant I could hop into my rental car and head to the Craft & Folk Art Museum, or do a three-hour walking tour of arts-and-crafts homes in “Bungalow Heaven,” Pasadena, so be it. I thought it was heaven, but my children would have been in hell — which meant I would have been, too.
My trip was important, professionally and personally. I had a blast. I slept on the airplane. And when I got home, I hugged my kids tight and I gave them the chocolates from the side of my hotel room bed. They were thrilled, and so was I: to see them, to talk to them, to hang out once again.
But did I miss them? Well, would you have, if you were me?