Summer's over, as far as I'm concerned. I know, as my friend Judy keeps saying, September 21. But for one thing, the leaves on the maple tree out back are already turning red; the tupelos began changing two weeks ago. The weather's turned cool and blustery. I'm never one to complain about rain--I would happily grow webbing between my toes--but the soaking we're in only reflects the way my soul feels, soaked in tears. The children are leaving.
Slow Love, I've been able to be a Stay at Home Mom with an actual child at home. It took some adjustment. Granola disappeared as if locusts had visited. "You've forgotten the way 21 year olds eat, Mom." The photograph here--which I did not set up, but instead, came home to one afternoon--shows what passed for putting up clothes. In the living room. "But they're up off the floor, Mom." My five-year-old friend Sophia came to visit, clapped her hand over her mouth in mock horror and burst into giggles at the sight of his room. She dubbed him Messy Theo. I tried explaining the virtues of an ordered environment. He tried explaining the irrelevance of chores that were done only to be undone within the same day. And we had great talks, walks, swims, meals, and enjoyed one another's company. We watched rainbows dissolve, and I got to wish him goodnight for weeks, the same way I did every night through his and his brother's childhoods, the way my mother did in mine: "Fais de beaux reves."
By the time you are reading this, I'll be driving him to Providence. And I can promise you, the moment he and his backpack hit the lobby of the train station, I'll be sobbing. I'm pretty sure that I will be joined by tearful farewells all across the country, as parents pack up children for another year of school. Yesterday, Theo peered at me (in pre-sobbing mode) and asked, "Mom, do you have separation anxiety?" "Of course not," I said, rather snappily. "Only children have that." Two minutes later, I added, "Yes, come to think of it. I do have separation anxiety. I'll miss you with terribly. So much it scares me."
our Joni Mitchell moment, he made an attempt to transcribe "California" for his instrument, and therefore I cannot get the words out of my head...."Will you take me as I am, strung out another man? California, I'm comin' home...")
When he wasn't at the guitar, Theo was at the piano. As a child, he figured out how to play the first few bars of Nina Simone's "I got it bad, and that ain't good" and I would fall asleep to the sound. Once in a while, he played it again, this summer, along with lots of other music--everything from Satie to boogie-woggie. His music wafted through the house, accompanying me in all I did, baking, reading, writing, sleeping. The very atmosphere I breathed was redolent with it--almost as if the air had thickened--and, buoyed by it, it struck me that air without music in it can feel as thin as the chlorinated brew in a pool compared to the silky caress of heavy, salty ocean water.
bake a pot of bread upon arrival. This time, the two brothers began to design tee-shirts and organize their new business (!) and I looked on in wonder at their energy and optimism and naivete. Then Theo remembered he had promised to embroider a coat for our friend Caroline, and got to work on that, complaining the whole time about his neck, his eyesight, his fingers, but he stitched his merry way through it. He turns out these garments at the rate of one a year so I am now on a waiting list.