We recently moved Clara and Lydia’s seats together in my car to make room for a new baby seat. We are now a family of sardines. Clown sardines. A vacuum sealed bag of clown sardines. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Now every trip to the store is like a trip to the moon. We are each allowed exactly 1 cubic foot of carry on belongings, not including our coats. Our coats, however, must either be worn or placed on our heads like a hat.

Every item we bring with us must serve a dual purpose to save on space. Clara, for instance may bring along a doll baby, but it must be able to be turned upside down and be used as a small table for snacks, if the need arises. Also, Lydia may choose to bring along a tiny plastic cell phone, but apart from pretending to talk into it, she must also be able to put it in her mouth and act like a duck. This makes things more efficient.

Additionally, we are each allowed exactly two breathes of fresh air per mile traveled. Daddy is allowed three breathes, but that is because he must navigate the craft. If anyone else in the car were to pass out it would actually be in the benefit of the rest of the crew.

The worst part however is the months of preparation that must go into each family outing. Meticulous calculations and diagrams must be drawn up to optimize the voyage. There are numerous briefings and staged practice runs in the living room simulator to decrease the likelihood of errors. but this just makes it so much more disappointing after putting so much effort into a trip only to be forced to abort at the last minute because of poor weather, solar flares, or one of the crew having to go to the bathroom and not thinking to mention this before suiting up.

But it is all worth it. To be able to sit quietly in that tiny tin vessel, two sleeping girls strapped to the back wall, one empty chamber next to them waiting for the new crew member. The stars, dancing just above our heads. Close enough to touch. With hours to think. The world small and insignificant, almost forgotten, in my rear view mirror, as I drifting slowly in circles, dutifully on my 4 month mission, waiting for Andrea to finally come out of Target.