Santa Fe Morning
When I awoke the next morning, the sun streamed into the bedroom and already the blanket was too warm on top of me. I wiggled my hand out of Chris’s grip and looked at my watch. It was 7:30 already.
I slid out of the bed and made my way to the bathroom. After brushing teeth and hair, I went back into the bedroom to find Chris stretching like a lazy cat. “Is the bathroom empty?” he asked.
“Yes,” I told him while I removed my suitcase from the closet.
He rose to his feet and exited while I found a pair of jeans and a blue tank top. The jeans felt a little sung, so I peeled them off and put on my black traveling pants. More work was needed to get rid of my fast food belly. I put on sneakers and went to find Snow, sure she would be ready for a walk. She spent the night with Barbara and I was happy she found Barbara such good company.
Matt sat at the dining room table with a mug of coffee in front of him and the newspaper spread across the top. “Coffee’s in the pot. No maids in this house.” He didn’t look up from the paper.
I grabbed a mug from the cabinet and filled my cup.
“Any good news?” I asked him when I returned to the dining room.
“No new countries invaded and no schools shot to shit. I’ll settle for that. How did you sleep?”
“Quite well, actually. And did Snow bother you? Where is she, by the way.”
“I let her out this morning and she did her business in the sand. She dined bountifully and then got into the bed with Barbara. We have a king size, so there was plenty of room for me and Snow.”
“It’s amazing how she has taken to Barbara.”
“Do you want to leave her here while you and Chris continue your voyage?”
I had not occurred to me to leave her behind, but when Matt mentioned it, I immediately warmed to the idea. Leaving Snow would make it easier to get hotel rooms and to eat in restaurants.
“Leave who here?” Chris asked when he joined us at the dining table, steaming coffee in his hand.
“Snow,” I said. “She has become quite infatuated with Barbara.”
“Make things easier for us, if we did. You really don’t mind do you, Matt? I mean, having a pet is a big responsibility.” Chris grinned.
Matt looked at Chris over the top of his reading glasses. “Yes, Mother, I know. Snow is very welcome to stay, if you want to leave her. We can ship her back to you once you two get back home. Maybe Barbara will be well enough for a road trip and we can drive her to Virginia.”
“Done,” Chris said. Then, “Now, about the Cayenne. We are supposed to leave it with you. We have the signed title. Anne and I can go car shopping today. I think I would like a smaller car to the one we have been driving. What do you think, Anne?”
“Sure. Maybe an Audi Q2 or maybe a Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Eclipse has better horsepower and is heavier than the Q2, but it runs on plain old regular gas and is cheaper to buy.” I said.
Both men stared at me like I had just grown two heads. “How do you know that?” Chris asked me.
“What do you think I have been doing in all those hotel rooms?”
“I would have guessed watching pay-per-view porn,” Matt said, laughing. “Not researching cars.”
“I like the Eclipse, too,” Chris said. “I haven’t been watching porn, either.”
“That settles it, then,” Matt said. “Mitsubishi after breakfast. Julia should be here any minute. I need help in the kitchen with breakfast. You,” he said as he pointed at me, “Go visit with Barbara. She’s awake and sipping tea. Chris, you came help me in the kitchen. You’ll be ready for an episode of America’s Top Chef before you leave here.”
“Just don’t make me do the dishes,” Chris complained as he followed Matt into the kitchen.
I rose from my chair, and headed to Barbara’s bedroom. She looked small on the huge king size bed. She wore a frilly pink bed jacket and had a cup on tea on a bed tray beside her. Her reading glasses rode far down her nose and her paperback book rested on a pillow she put over her thighs.
“Snow is a great bed companion,” Barbara said. “Does she sleep with you?”
“No. At home, she normally sleeps beside the bed. I think we are going to leave her here with you while we finish our journey.”
“Great idea! I haven’t had a house pet since I was a child. I’d forgotten how nice it is to have a cuddly animal around. Really, she was no trouble at all.”
My phone whistled at me and I looked at the text from Lily: Hi, Mom. How’s Aunt Barbara and Uncle Matt? The party at the end of classes was great. Posted pics on Facebook. Tell them I said, Hi!
I told Barbara, “It’s from Lily. She is out of classes for the summer, so she’ll be able to help Carolyn with the boys. She says, hi.”
“Hi, back at her,” Barbara said.
I typed, “Barbara says, Hi.”
Lily’s next message said, Austin broke his wrist last night when Ham ran over him with a bicycle. They will never get off the time-out step.
Me: Oh, my goodness! Is he in a cast?
Lily: No. Just a splint. Aunt Carolyn says he can still make his bed and help around the house one-handed.
Me: Carolyn has more stamina that I do.
Lily: Those little guys keep us busy. I taught Jackson how to do a spit-take. Just like Grandma Lillian taught me. Uncle Louis got pissed at both of us. We were in the yard and didn’t make a mess. He made me sit on the time-out step. For an hour! He gave me a book to read, so it was all good.
I laughed and told Barbara what Lily said.
“What is a spit-take?” she asked.
“When a comedian takes a drink of water just as someone else says something funny and they spit water out of their mouth and spray it everywhere.”
“Oh, yeah. I know what you mean.”
I typed, Well, I think it’s pretty funny.
Lily: Uncle Louis told me later he thought it was cool. He had to act mad so Jackson wouldn’t spit all over everyone. Then, he asked me to show him how to do it.
I laughed. Then, Your Dad and I are going to buy a new car today. I will send you a pic. I love you. TTL.
Matt stuck his head in the bedroom and asked, “Barb, are you eating in here or are you breakfasting at the table?”
“Table. Just give me about five minutes and I’ll be there.” Barbara slowly got out of the bed and headed toward the bathroom that was part of the master suite.
“Do you need help?” I asked her.
“Nope. Just going to pee. Be right out.”
I waited for her and grabbed her elbow to escort her to the table in the dining room. She sat, just as the front door burst open. Julia ran into the dining room and said, “French toast! I smelled it from the street.” She placed a huge basket of laundry on the floor beside the back door. She pulled me into a giant hug and then, Chris.
Julia closely resembled Charlotte in appearance and both displayed an unbridled exuberance for life.
“I see you brought your laundry,” Matt said to her. “They have washers at the dorms.”
“Yeah, and you have to guard your clothes with an AK47 or someone will steal them or dump the on the floor in the middle of a cycle. No, thank you. I prefer to waste your water and electricity, Daddy.” She kissed his cheek and hugged him tightly.
“How can I say no?” He kissed the top of her head. “Studying hard?”
“Hardly studying,” she replied. “I have a paper due on Monday, so I have to finish it up while my clothes wash.”
Charlotte came into the dining room and said, “You all are making a racket. How’s a body supposed to sleep in?”
“You wouldn’t have to sleep in if you didn’t stay out all hours with Ernie,” Matt said to her. He pulled her into quick hug and said, “Good morning, kitten.”
“You, he calls ‘Kitten,’” Julia said. “Me, he calls Fool.”
“He’s just in a good mood because Uncle Chris is here,” Charlotte said. Then, to us. “Most of the time Matt Archer has three daughters, Moron, Retard and Fool.” She pronounced them Moe-ron, Re-tard and Fool.
“No respect from my offspring. Breakfast is ready,” he said.
During the meal, I heard about Julia’s classes, Charlotte’s date with Ernesto and Matt’s detailed explanation about the proper way to make French Toast. For the first time since leaving Virginia, I felt like I was on vacation.