Spring break, that silky oasis sandwiched between the crackling of ink-smeared paper flashed by during the first week of April. It was toward the end of March my 15-year-old son began acting like he’d been sweating in the gulag for 5 years and the only thing that would relieve his prison’s pressure was … sand, sun and sleep.
“I really need a break,” he moaned one day. He sounded like a 45-year-old CEO of an underwater company with a family to support.
Different coastal town, different friends but still … there they were. Each was the guest of a generous friend as well. Sometimes things work out like that. Alone and with a move looming the house mocked me with its mess. Lucky for me the Dude was able to fly over and help organize the house a little. HRD waylaid her flight to join us for a few days after her vacation so she could save some mementos from the moving wrecking ball.
Our lives lurk in every corner of every room. I could easily be a hoarder and unfortunately I understand the initial drive that pushes people to accumulate junk. How can I throw away that block-lettered paper EJD wrote in second grade? Or the pictures he drew when he was 3 years old? What about the books I read to my kids when they were toddlers? I wouldn’t be saying good-bye to the books, I’d be throwing away the memory of their joy and our snuggling when reading.
That old camera box? Might need that. Cause someday I might want to mail something small and I might need its sturdy construction. I might find the matching earring laying unused on my dresser; those earrings used to look really good on me when I wore the black dress that no longer fits. I might forget how pretty I felt if I throw away my earring.
We had a garage sale while the Dude visited and one crawler brought her tiny son with her. He looked about 2 years old. I quietly went to our bookcase on the driveway and grabbed a favored book about an old woman on her birthday and all the relatives who come to see her. The little boy grabbed the book and carried it triumphantly. He couldn’t read yet, but at least for a second he loved that book and I hoped his mom would read it to him someday.
I need to realize my memories are not gone when my flotsam is gone. My kids seem better at saying good-bye to their stuff than I am, but their memories are not alive with such happiness, sadness or regret as mine. I guess it’s time to just carry all that inside me and not store it in physical form for eternity.
Moving across the country is not as accepted as I thought. My 15-year-old son informed me that he is “not on board” whatsoever with moving from North Carolina to California. In fact, after he told me exactly that he dramatically stomped out of my room.
“Let’s discuss,” I’d said while adjusting my black wig. (Wait, that is a home dye job. I keep forgetting.)
Later while driving home from his Krav Maga class I decided to impart some wisdom.( As an aside I must say that is one of my very favorite aspects of parenting: the dispensing of my serene Buddist-like knowledge into impressionable young minds. I’ve found the dispensing works best when the young minds sit trapped in the car with me and their ear buds have been taken away.)
Calmly I drove and listened to my sweet, thoughtful son as he told me he would indeed “try” this whole moving thing. Sort of like a new sport I guess.
“I’ll try it for a while,” he said.
“OK,” I cautiously countered.
“But, ” he said, “I don’t really like ultimatums.”
“OK,” I said in my best Buddha voice. “But this isn’t really an ultimatum. I just acknowledged that you have a choice.”
“Saying I have to move is an ultimatum,” he said.
“If you hate it,” I said, “If you are miserable, I will move back here with you. But you have to give it some time.”
“OK,” he said. “I will try it for a while.”
He is so happy now with his friends. For the most part he likes his classes at school; EJD has a pretty good life now. But a change is a gonna come. Inevitable. And no, I never really liked Bob Dylan but I appreciate that he was a catalyst for (a reflection of?) change. And I would move back with my boy, no lie.
Wait a minute. Was that a stomach ache or did I feel more wisdom coming on?
“Your dad and I were talking,” I said, “and he mentioned something I think applies. He said there is no such thing as try, there is only do.”
“Yoda!” screamed EJD. “Dad was quoting Star Wars!” Our son almost chortled with joy as he explained the movie scene where Yoda patiently explains this living lesson to hero-in-the-making Luke Skywalker.
Then I remembered the Dude’s vocal intonations. Indeed, there had been a hint of self-mockery present but I’d glided over it in my eagerness to agree that yes, trying without the requisite follow through was an admission of defeat. We’d actually been talking about my new idea for a career but wisdom is wisdom and it applies to all.
I laughed with our boy but was a tad embarrassed for letting the Dude pull one over on me. Now I remembered his pause after he said it, maybe waiting to see if I got the joke. Since I haven’t seen Star Wars and its latent predecessors 5,000 gazillion times the reference escaped me.
Dude is a funny guy. Our marriage has been in the sky and on the skids many a time over the last 20 years but one thing that has stayed constant is his ability to get a laugh.
He is waiting to be with his boy, can’t wait. Lots of plans. EJD can’t see that far ahead because he’s young. All that matters is right here, right now and in a way he’s right, that is all that matters.
But you can’t stop the tide. Going to come, change it is.
We joke that our house is the “Malcolm in the Middle” home of the neighborhood. Our forsaken front yard is crabgrass which naturally browns in the winter. Except for the weeds, their greenery is exquisite. (It is hard to say that modestly.)
The arrival of spring weather brings new weed growth, something we celebrate here because it let’s us fake a lawn. I like it also because it gets my son out of the house and the mall and puts him squarely behind the mower. Granted, one of his favored malls is an outdoor mall and he does engage in the activity known as “walking” sometimes, but I like the physical productivity of mowing.
I’d be remiss to not interject that our boy, EJD also participates in Krav Maga, the Israeli fighting system a couple of times a week but that is a newish activity and it does not reap immediate rewards, for me, like lawn maintenance does.
So, as I was saying: we were talking foreclosure. Dude had only been out-of-work about 6 weeks before he landed this post, but regular paychecks haven’t been ours for a few years. I’ve worked here and there, but have no career and I have found no one wants to hire a middle-age woman with no discernible job skills whose hours are partially restricted by son-ferrying obligations. Hey! I’m a fun gal who is dependable, honest and reasonably bright. But the same can be said of people a quatra-zillion years younger than me. Who you gonna hire?
Anyway. Dude got a job. Dude likes his job. We.gonna.move. Our son knew a move was in the cards and fought it kicking and screaming but he seems to have climbed on board. Maybe because now we’ll live by the beach and have family within driving distance. His sister makes her formal move to acting capital Los Angeles next week, hopefully her presence is part of the allure but I doubt it. They are fighting now, separated by 3,000 miles and they are fighting.
I really have to stop here and pat myself on the back, it’ll just take a moment.
Phew, OK done with that. A passerby may have thought I had an itch but no, a self-congratulatory pat was in order. Almost grown children arguing. Not speaking. Wait. It reminds me of my younger sister and me! We are not speaking either! Connections! So exciting! It’s sort of like an episode of the ancestry search show “Who Do You Think You Are?”
My sister is MJH and she will reside about 8 hours away from our new home. Exciting times. Heh heh.
On my list now are home repairs, packing, sorting, Good Will trips, a possible garage sale and more packing. Groan. It will be worth it in the end though because finally, we’re moving.