Iris, whose story begins here, moved away a few days ago. We knew the move was coming; she had been talking about it for a few months now, saying very matter-of-factly that her mom didn't like Asheville because it's too much of a big city and the air quality is bad.
The real issue, of course, is that there are too many people getting in the way of her mom's ability to be crazy, which there always will be. They haven't lived in the same spot for more than nine months since Iris has been with her.
On the day they left, they still didn't know where they were moving to. It was either going to be Minnesota or California, and then at the last minute, Boone, NC, two hours away from here, got thrown into the mix as well.
I haven't written about Iris in the last few months, in part because this blog was getting more local readers and I didn't feel right about it, and in part because we'd been seeing so much less of Iris than we used to. After her mom banned her from coming over here to play, and especially after she found out about her many clandestine visits, things changed. Iris formed bonds with others in the neighborhood, including a couple of families we're friends with, and I began hearing about her through them more than I was interacting with her directly. They were the ones who were now feeding her and watching her on snow days and weekends and any other time Sonia couldn't be bothered.
I felt like I had disengaged from Iris emotionally, and yet I got teary when I hugged her goodbye. There was a lot I wanted to say to her but I didn't say anything except, "Take care."And now, days later, I can't stop thinking about her. Some people moved into their apartment right away, and every time I look over and see the drapes they've hung, I feel disoriented and then just really sad.
A few days before Iris left, a mom she had grown close to gave her some prepaid postcards addressed to a bunch of us in the neighborhood so that Iris could keep in touch. But Sonia wouldn't let her keep them.
I was simultaneously not at all surprised and completely devastated by this woman's cruelty.
Another thing Sonia wouldn't let Iris keep was her bike, which she got around Christmas from some other neighborhood friends whose daughter had outgrown it. Iris rode that bike like crazy every day, sometimes with a posse of kids, sometimes on her own cruising for company or just needing to be away from home. Sometimes, too, I'd see her ride painfully slowly, circling, while her mom walked nearby, stopping at every corner, or whenever she came across something on the sidewalk that disturbed her, to go through her tap-tap-tap routine.
Anyway, Iris really loved her bike. It's still parked on the sidewalk in front of her old house. None of us knows what to do with it.