|March 1, 2001
I tried dialing the house in TicTac every ten minutes last night, long into the evening, without success.
Every time I called, I either got the automated operator (with her chilling 'All circuits are busy' message), or else the phone would just ring and ring and ring on the TicTac end without answer. Which -- in some ways -- seemed even more ominous: a houseful of teenagers, and nobody is answering the phone??
I was no more successful with cell phones. Jaymi's cell went directly to the automated message, and Kacie doesn't appear to even have a cell phone anymore.
By bedtime I gave up.
"I know they're probably fine," I told David wistfully. "But it would have been nice to hear their voices tonight, just the same."
We'd spent most of the evening listening to TV news reports about the big earthquake in TicTac. Depending on which station we watched, the various news puppets had it bouncing back and forth between a 7.0 and a 6.4 on the Richter scale, eventually settling at a nice terrifying 6.8.
David reminded me that I did hear from Jaymi, at least, immediately after the earthquake hit. "There's one Tot accounted for," he said soothingly.
That's true. I can usually count on Daughter #1 to keep me in the loop on the important stuff: to provide me with her latest address/phone number/Significant Other info, for instance, or to acknowledge receipt of gift checks and care packages (usually with a snail-mailed Hallmark featuring licensed Charles Schultz cartoon characters), or to check in with her mother after a fudking EARTHQUAKE, forcryingoutloud.
The two younger Tots are clearly less evolved in this department.
I went to bed feeling vaguely unsettled and incomplete, like a Mama Hen who counts the eggs parked under her butt and comes up short by two or three. (Although, as far as I know, Mama Hens aren't very good at math. Which is why so few of them become algebra teachers. But you get my meaning here.)
This morning I was slumped in front of the computer at 5:45 a.m., blearily checking for e-mail messages. Frankly, I didn't expect to find anything. Even someone with *my* painfully limited grasp of technology understands that if the phone lines aren't working, there probably isn't going to be e-mail, either. But a long-distance mother's hope springs foolish -- and eternal. So it was with a mixture of relief and exasperation that I opened my mailbox and read the following deathless missive from Son #Only:
" ... I was napping when you called around 8:45. Sorry, I heard the phone but didn't want to get up, I thought dad would get it but he was outside chopping wood. We're all fine, me and dad are watchen T.V. and just hangen out. That's all, bye bye."
He heard the phone ringing last night ... but he 'didn't want to get up' and answer it.
I immediately rewarded this boneheaded behavior, of course, by plunking twenty bucks into a CDNow Gift Certificate and e-mailing it off to his stoopid unresponsive fourteen-year-old butt.
"Next time, answer the damn phone," the gift card reads. "Love, Mom."
Now there is only one Tot unaccounted for, and that's Daughter #2. Unfortunately, Kacie is the Tot I worry about most and hear from the least. (Isn't that always the way?) I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons why I didn't hear from her yesterday, after the earthquake: she's just started her new waitressing job ... she's almost eighteen ... she's got a new boyfriend ... she's finishing her senior year in high school, and she's got tons of vitally important homework to ignore ... she's got a social life to rival Denise Rich ... she was busy dangling from a fraying bungee cord from the Observation Deck of The Space Needle ... blah blah blah.
I don't care.
I'm going to start compulsively dialing that TicTac number again tonight, the minute I get home from work, and I'm going to keep dialing it, until someone answers ... and if it isn't Daughter #2 who answers, I'm just going to sit there with the phone pressed to my ear until she is located. Even if it means she has to jog the 3.8 miles, from the dinner shift at the restaurant, all the way home to the TicTac house.
The logical, rational part of me understands that yesterday's earthquake, while scary and historic and costly and newsworthy as all get-out [hi, jean enerson!! how's it hanging, don porter??] , probably inflicted no direct or lasting damage on any of the Tots. If anything, they'll be able to bore the hell out of their grandchildren someday with tales of the Big Quake of '01.
Mama Hen in me isn't going to rest tonight until all