Richie's home again. When I picked him up from the train for the labor day visit I realized about three minutes before I left for the train that I would be traveling in an unsavory neighborhood at night. Great. I don't see well as it is and I wanted to drive his grandpa car of a boat over there to fetch him. Understand I don't drive very well, never have, never will. The skills it takes to drive are still I don't possess and I am not even sure I want to own them. I don't drive that far that often for this to be an issue. Best Friend loves to drive and most boys I know can't wait for the chance to drive somewhere so this issue doesn't present itself that often. I popped in the car on one of those summer evenings the romantics write about, crisp and clean and cool after a summer blistered day. I try to call a friend, someone angry with me. Ever know someone JUST like you? It's not a good idea, I'd avoid your clone especially when they are the opposite sex with a mad on about something. No luck so I pop in a little kid rock, the new stuff.
To run Richie's car you have to be Chris Angel. You have to jimmy this, tickle that, fidget with the lights the seat and the mirrors. It's an old car he's run into the ground and even though it's not the safest or the most convenient there is something romantic about the big leather bench seat and of course kid rock singing about taking a road trip to Louisiana. It's been a difficult summer of sorts and I am anxious to see my kid and hug him and listen to his life because at this point his life has to be more interesting than mine.
I keep thinking don't miss the turn, if you miss this turn you see you end up on some stretch of I55 and turning around will take me another 30 minutes in this strange industrial area with a few hookers spread around here and there to add a little color to this adventure. I didnt' miss the turn but by this time kid rock is playing loud and I am dancing a little sipping diet coke with a metal straw and owning the world. The blues flew out the window with my hair and there's my kid on the platform surrounded by friends from school and all I wanted to do was put the car in park and put my arms around him. You see I created him out of young love and little pieces of my flesh and my blood coursing through his veins. Even when I want to change his direction, make better decisions than he does, when my heart aches for him he's still mine. I think at just that moment that he's 5 again standing next to the kitchen table while I am making the little pancakes he still likes with the blueberry eyes. He's holding a batman and a spiderman sandal each for the same foot complaining to me that the kids are outside already and he needs two shoes that match these. His hair was so blond then that it would stay light through December. He was always tan and he never wanted to be in the house. Some things change, others never will.
He tells me at the train platform that he wants me to meet his friend's parents. I whisper to him "another time" with the brush of my hand and I hug him so hard that we spin around a little and I didn't want to let go for awhile. You see I didn't have this with my mother, she was gone already and I can't even remember her voice some days. Richie will remember me. He will know I love him ferociously and endlessly. I kiss his cheek a few dozen times and tell him I miss him, I miss him and yes I miss him and we can't get his things into the car fast enough to speed home. Home. Home where the cats are, home where the ham is, home where his bed waits, home where the music and the paints and the art and where you can be whatever you need to be.
Last winter when he was home on break we spent a few days snowed in, eating bad food and listening to music, watching CNN and playing video games. When the days are long and I am tired, so tired. I have that day in my head and I relive it the two of us giggling while we are shoveling the drive way with no end. I remember standing in my studio and watching him shovel just about the end of the drive and the plow burying him in the end and watching him throw the shovel at the back of the plow and me laughing like mad, laughing and laughing some more. I put on my gloves and hat and headed out to help. Three days later we were still digging out.
Now it's summer, summer's end and we are cruising home, him letting me drive because he seems it's what I want. We sing a few lines of kid rock and then turn down the stereo for him to tell me a little about college life, his girlfriend, his new classes, the cost of books, how exciting. He motions for me to get into the left lane and I remind him there's a white castle up here and we aren't going home without some sliders. I called best friend when we got home and filled her in on his comings and goings and telling her again that seeing him at the train was good, this would be a good visit, no turmoil, no bickering, just home. An hour upon his arrival Batman stops by and I pour a glass of red and head to the back deck under a quilt for a late evening chat under a veil of stars and when I think of taking the stereo outside to listen to music, nature brings out the summer bugs to sing to me. I am so blessed. I could close my eyes for a moment and when I opened them I could see twirling trails of sparkling lights all in love swirling around a summer night. This is home, what home is. When you think you know every corner, every thought that could happen here a surprise, a new voice, a new way to look at things a calming force, the hand on your shoulder.
I went in later to lay in bed and think of the day, tired ready to fall into the bed, not on it. I used to define my life by being someone's mother and now I couldn't do that any longer. To do that now would be a lie and it would be a shame. I am spending this summer trying to define my life and who I am and having him leave over and over again to find his life helps me do that.I can let go and exhale and know it will all be alright. He will flourish, he will know he's loved, he will figure his way and make his own life and his own family and his own home. I made him some fried chicken to take back and I will on Monday when he leaves again. Sometimes when you go home to see your mom you just get what you want.
Monday I won't cry when he leaves. I was close last time when I took him to the train and saw the empty platform where he'd be standing soon his book bag in one hand and a bag of stuff from me in another. These separate lives we lead now a celebration of life and of how fast it all moves. Where has 23 years gone? Where is the little boy in the sand dunes at the lake house playing for endless hours with giggling boys so caked in dirt and sand and the smells of summer? I think of taking him out on the paddle boat and 3 minutes from the shore, the whole intent of the trip, "mom can I pee off the side of the boat?" He'd wait until we passed the bridge and going back was just too much time. When he pushes and shoves me into this new life of his I have to stop and close my eyes and see the hundreds of adventures, the days sun burned in the back of the car driving home from the Lake singing Melissa Etheridge songs while Best Friend shakes her head in irritation that he doesn't know the words to Freebird. June becomes July and July is 23 years later.
My sweet niece Katie finds me tonight and sends me a message that she misses me and we laugh a little and I think of her mom always letting go of another child and wonders how she does it over and over again. I feel the need to draw someone close to me and to let them into my family and my heart or to at least leave the door open a little bit to hear another voice and to be brave. The summer is giving up her fight and I want to be in Ashland on the porch watching cars turn the corner sipping lemonade and listening for the sound to play euchre. I want Matt as a partner he's a brave bidder and he never looks focused enough to bluff. Jim always wins, that's just too easy and I miss them all very much.