Finally, a moment to breathe!
I know I haven’t written in a while, but things have been totally nuts at work lately. Kelly’s still on maternity leave (only a week left to go though, thank God!) so Simon’s still running things up in Falkenburg. Which means Victoria’s holding the reigns down here, and I’m bouncing back and forth between the two trying to keep from going crazy.
Today’s my first full day off in almost two weeks… So of course Hope had an important meeting to go to this morning. Just our luck, huh?
She should be back in about an hour though, and I don’t expect Tante Joce or Harper to be back until later…
Yeah, we’ll definitely be taking advantage of having the house to ourselves for once.
Until then though, it’s almost eerie around here. So quiet and empty. It’s not very often that I’m the only person in the whole house. There used to be a time back when I was living on my own when I liked the peace and quiet. It was nice. Peaceful. Kind of a welcome change from how things used to be when I was a kid.
It’s still crazy to think of how different things used to be around here back when I was growing up. The house felt so… alive back then. Four of us kids, three of my grandparents, and Tante Joce… Not to mention the other friends and family members who visited all the time. There was always someone to talk to, or something to do. It felt like our house was always packed with people. And I always thought it was the best thing in the world.
I guess part of me has always felt guilty that my Harper never got to know what that was like. It’s always been me, her, Hope, and Tante Joce… And that’s pretty much it. So many of my older relatives have passed away by now. And the others are too busy with their own families or live too far away to visit very often. It’s just a lot more lonely around here than it used to be. And I used to worry that meant my little girl was missing out on something.
Maybe not though. I don’t think she minds it nearly as much as I thought she would. She’s never complained about it to us, at least. Harper’s never really been one for big crowds of people anyway. A few good friends has been all she needs to be happy.
But over the past year or so, it’s started feeling like she doesn’t even have that anymore. She’s been hanging out with her usual group of friends less and less… I can’t even remember the last time we had any of them over for dinner. Or the last time Harper asked to go to Sophie or Thad or Nyla’s house. She’s started spending more and more time in her room.
Hope and I were really starting to get worried, for a while. But every time we asked, Harper would just tell us everything was fine. And I guess we didn’t really have much of a choice but to believe her. I mean, it’s not like we could force her to go out and try to make new friends or find something to do. So we kinda resigned ourselves to our daughter turning into a hermit. (Okay, it’s easy to joke about it now, but I swear to God it really wasn’t funny at the time).
Anyway, the point of that massive tangent is that Hope and I had really gotten used to having our baby girl home with us all the time.
But these days, it’s like we barely see her anymore. The house feels more deserted than ever before.
And honestly, we couldn’t be happier.
Harper’s finally found some new friends! And for the past month or so, they’ve been practically inseparable. They hang out together almost every day, and it’s been the best thing for our little girl. She’s smiling more. She’s happier. Even her grades have been getting better!
Rylie and Devin are their names, and it sounds like they’re pretty amazing friends, from what Harper’s told us. They’ve been helping her out with school, they have a lot of interests in common… It’s just such a relief for us. We’d been waiting and waiting for Harper to get out of this funk of hers, and it looks like these new friends were exactly what she needed to do it.
God, I just wish they hadn’t talked her into messing with her hair! It looks so… Well… Let’s just say Hope and I weren’t too happy when we first saw it. We managed to keep our cool though, and we didn’t give her a hard time about it (I wish I’d been able to keep a better poker face though).
But hey, if some questionable hair is the price we have to pay for our baby girl to be happy, it’s one we’re definitely willing to pay… Even if we’re still not too crazy about it.
Tante Joce didn’t seem like much of a fan either, of course… But Tante Clara loved it. We’ve been seeing a lot of her ever since Onkel Florian passed away last summer. She and Tante Joce hang out together practically every day now. And when Harper came home with her new hair, Tante Clara couldn’t stop raving about it.
Y’know, I always remember admiring Tante Clara’s hair back when I was a kid. I was so obsessed with comic books and Batman back then, and with her purple hair and nose ring and tattoos… Well, I used to almost imagine her as some kind of kick-ass super villain or something. I thought she was so cool!
It makes me think of that character Harper used to write about. Her little vigilante. Could that be what she’s trying to do with this weird hair thing? (That silver does remind me a bit of Storm from X-Men…). I just don’t really know what to think of it. I mean, Tante Clara’s always been so… ‘cool’. Edgy? It’s hard to put it into words. But having that crazy hair and all those tattoos has always really suited her.
But what about Harper? She’s such a sweet girl. Quiet. Shy… I don’t know. I guess there’s a part of me that’s worried she’s trying to be something she’s not, you know?
That’s pretty much the one thing we’re not sure about with these friends of hers. It’s not just the hair thing. She’s been dressing kind of differently ever since she started hanging out with them too. And she’s told us they have tattoos! How long before she wants one too?
I’m probably overreacting, but I just don’t want her to feel like she has to change herself to fit in with her new friends or something.
Tante Joce says me and Hope are worrying too much, of course. And Tante Clara put it a lot more bluntly — “Calm the fuck down and let her do what she wants,” if I recall correctly (Tante Joce got a pretty good laugh out of that one!).
And I guess she’s right. Hope and I actually talked about it a little this morning before she left for her meeting. Why should we care how Harper’s dressing or wearing her hair these days? It’s not like she’s skipping school or doing drugs or anything crazy like that.
Sure, her new friends may not be the best influences in the fashion department… But seeing Harper’s smile (and report card!) more than makes up for that.
As long as my baby girl doesn’t end up covered in tattoos or thrown in jail, I think we’ll be okay.
Back from my mini-hiatus with bad-ish news (sorry!)
As I think most of you know, I’m a teacher. And the school year is about to begin!
While I get back into the swing of things, I’ll be cutting back to two chapters a week (on Wednesdays and Saturdays… no Sunday chapters for a while!)
My hope is to go back to the usual three a week once I’ve gotten settled in with the new school year, but I’m not quite sure when that will be. As always, I’ll keep you guys updated! Thank you for reading ❤