I don’t write about Eli very much because he asked me not to mention him without his consent. It wasn’t hard to do. There has been distance between us over the last couple of years. The same strain occurred with Leo during middle school and seeped into 9th grade. Whereas Leo was silent in his disgust for me, Eli is very vocal.
I’m not sure that Eli has ever forgiven me for leaving him in the attention vacuum between his older brother and two demanding babies. In recognition of his place in the birth order, I began taking Eli on trips alone to give him respite from the squeeze of the middle.
It turns out that Eli is an excellent travel companion. We visited France, San Francisco, Yosemite, and Olympic National Park. Our trips were always perfect and helped to take the sting out of our push-pull at home. During the last couple of years neither of us talked about traveling together. On our road trip through Montana with Leo last summer, Eli spent a lot of the time mad at me.
When I picked Eli up from rowing last night he was in a great mood. We joked and laughed all the way home. At the stop light, I looked over at him and it hit me that the thaw in our relationship has been happening for months now. We are more natural with each other again, kinder.
As we drove through the dark, he suggested that we take a trip to Washington DC together this summer.
We both want to see the pandas.
My friend Shelly took this picture of Eli and me after hiking near Grenoble, France.