I close the curtains and breathe the air.
I sit on my daughter’s empty bed and close my eyes. I see a tiny girl in a high chair. She wears a tangerine playsuit, her dark hair is split into short, mischievous bunches, and she is play-frowning as she sits waiting for me to make her peanut butter sandwiches. As a toddler, she had beautifully expressive feet: oh, how indignant they could be, and again so joyful. She smiles at me as she theatrically furrows her brow, but the angle of those feet; the tension in them, let me know that a real tantrum is not far behind if I don’t hasten. Just in time, the sandwiches are served and the feet relax; a first bite and her toes wiggle happily along with her jaw.
Always so independent, she developed her own individual smell from an early age. Now older, stronger-willed and even more contrary, the perfume of her in this room seems to grow more powerful the longer she is away. Or maybe I just breathe deeper.
It was two weeks ago that she sent her last, nervous, text before flying off to spend three weeks on the plains and deserts of southern Africa with a group of people she’d not met before; it is another nine days before I see her again. In the meantime, we glean what we can from the weekly group-blog. The first was heartening; we’re here safely, evenings are spent singing round the campfire and stargazing (generally speaking, the only stargazing my daughter does is watching TOWIE, but first for everything and all that). The second was slightly more unsettling; we’re off trekking in search of elephants, it’s up to 40º most days and there are no showers – wet wipe washes are the way forward. And while someone’s son is living on Tabasco sauce, someone’s daughter is a natural breadmaker and someone else’s snores, my daughter – after a week – spoke.
Next update is due tomorrow.