Tess turned eight on Thursday. Sunday she flew away with her dad, for six weeks of summertime in Port Townsend. She will be flying with my sister and her kids to Northern Ontario at the end of July, and I will meet them, probably at the border.

In the meantime, I'm going to go out and lie in the driveway and eat dirt.

Why does it hurt so much to have her gone? Neither wertperch nor I knew what to do with ourselves on Sunday afternoon - granted, we've both been working pretty hard, both at our "real" jobs, and at other nutty projects. We have a garden. Kevin has been insta-nominated as the Green Compost Man, for his access to many many vegetable offcasts. I, in a moment of extreme foolhardyness, agreed to help a dear friend sew a wedding dress over the last few weekends. Being neither a very experienced seamstress, nor liking it all that much. However, there is probably next to nothing I would say no to, with Therese (Tess's namesake) asking me to do it. She said, "So I should bring the sewing machine and several bottles of wine." Hoist to my own petard.

Again, why is it so painful to have Tess gone?

Having her around is a bit like living with an elf. She makes up songs constantly, particularly in the morning. We hear this little piping voice singing about whatever pops into her mind, which at age eight is almost anything. Mermaids. Being a princess. Animals. Flying. Any random, interesting word, repeated over and over, until it becomes scat singing.

I've always been someone who is a parent by the seat of my pants. I wing it a lot. Sure, I've read the books, probably more during pregnancy than since, and I know what the fashionable parenting books/magazines/gurus generally have to say. And I think most of them are mostly full of shit.

Seat of the pants. And here is this person, who, theoretically I'm "responsible" for "bringing up", now eight..that's half of sixteen. Half way to being able to drive. MORE than half way to her first date, probably. Mine was a school dance, seventh grade, which would have made me twelve or thirteen. This is frightening. An Adolescent. Fearful hormones, idiotic messages about sex and dieting and being female - it's dirty, so don't touch it, and it's precious, so save it for marriage, and it's also plastered all of billboards, and used for selling everything from car wax to motorcycles. YOU make sense out of being a thirteen year old girl in this modern world. It's even more complicated and dangerous than when I was that age.

And she's an incredible little PERSON - so very like me, and yet so completely her own self. Imitating wertperch (and Lister of Red Dwarf), for the funniest fake british accent I've heard in a while. Talking, asking questions...talking. ALL the time.

What I notice most is the quiet - she is a talker and a runner and an inveterate thumper of feet and slammer of doors - not because she is making noise intentionally, but because life is to be tilted at - I want to get on to the next thing and I WANT TO GET THERE, NOW. FAST. RUN. How can quiet be so loud?

So that's how my noise flew away, and how quiet can be loud. An intrusive, irritating, painful quiet. I want this loud quiet to go away; I wish the noise would come back; I hope the noise is appreciated where she is, at the moment.

That noise is my favorite sound.

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