for three short weeks — one down, only two to go — there’s a new rhythm in this old house. it goes like this: ’round late morning, i hear a swoosh from up above the kitchen ceiling (that’s the bedsheets being whipped aside); then i hear a thud, followed by a parade of thuds, thud-thud-thud down the stairs. as the thuds round the bend, lope into the kitchen, i look up and see a bed-head. my beloved boy.
he begins his morning forage through the fridge. as he piles tubs and cartons on the countertop, he lets out with a “whadda we got for breakfast, mommo?”
that’s my cue to begin the litany, all within the confines of high-protein, low carbs, healthy, delicious, and filling.
hmm. let me know if you’ve got ideas.
it’s at about this point that the eggs are being cracked, he’s begging for mushrooms, and wants to know if i remembered to get the mozzarella at the market. as i watch egg whites whirl toward the kitchen walls, i leap up from my typing to play at being his sous-chef (though really all i am is the wiper-upper of kitchen splats).
he whips up something grand, something delicious, and always spilling over the sides of his plate.
we mosey back to the table. or, well, he moseys, and i finish up the de-splatting. then we sit, and the loopy days begin. we dive deep. quickly.
waste little time on folderol and fluff. we’ve got a year’s worth of college life to pour over (we’ve been known to take in two years at a gulp, retreading over year before last, if pertinent) , and there’s the year ahead to consider, too.
we loop round and round, drop threads, follow new ones, circle back — hours later — to the thread we’d left behind. it goes like this for half the day.
now, not all college kids go off the way mine has. i’ve heard tales of kids who text many times a day. i’ve even heard stories about college kids who dial phones. call home. to be fair, that happens here too, but not so very often. and, when it happens, it is sometimes very very late at night.
we seem to have birthed a college kid who takes his college full-throttle. unless it’s dire — and on occasion, it’s been vaguely that — we’re pretty much the side show. oh, there are insistent “love you, mommo”s. and there are (astonishingly), “do you remember where you put my sewing kit?”
mostly, i, um, never ever doubt, not for any longer than five or 10 minutes, that he appreciates my unbroken love and care.
but, really, it’s these sacred hours when he’s home, when the two of us are circling in and out of each other’s footspace and quarter-hour time slots, that we make up for lost time, and seal the deal for the long whitespace ahead.
these hours, the ones where he might sink down low inside a bean bag, while i trod for miles on the treadmill, the ones where i sous to his chef, these are the ones that knit us deep and thick and forever at the heart.
love in every house spills out in idiosyncratic ways. and it changes over time.
at my house now, i am licking up these hours of deep and winding conversation as if the ice cream melted on my cake plate.
i am whispering thanks to the heavens above that, right now, for this short interlude, i can do my typing here, not far from where the thuds patter down the stairs. so that i can weave my sentences in between his stories. so i can be here to catch the loop-de-loops of conversation as they unfurl. in slow time. unhurried time. whip-up-omelettes-while-you’re-talking time.
because i’m long practiced in the art of asking questions, allowing long spells for replies, i find this a part of motherhood to which i take a particular shine. play time on the floor, i flunked. so, too, chutes and ladders and monopoly. i wasn’t bad at crayons and paper. but really.
the deepest glue i know is the one that comes from unfurling the whole of the human heart. the nooks and crannies. crests and high plains.
so it’s what we do here. for three short weeks. in the mid-day hours when no one else is home. and my brain’s at full attention. and my work can wait till dark. for these hours are slipping through my fingers. and i am plumbing the depths of each and every one.
loopy days, i find, are the summer’s sweetest offering.
do you practice the art of the slow-unwinding conversation? the one with someone you love that stops and starts and plumbs the depths for days and days on end? and carries you across long dry deserts of barely enough time to really, really talk?
and because i promised a bit of cerebral uplift, i’ll begin what i’m calling the marginalia department, where i scribble in the margins of whatever page i’m turning, where i recount for you the lines i’ve scored and underscored.
this week from rebecca solnit’s “the faraway nearby,” a line to chew on for a time:
“Difficulty is always a school, though learning is optional.”
“Disenchantment is the blessing of becoming yourself.”
i am especially keen on the first, about difficulty school, and the option of learning from it. it’s a thought that carried me to sleep last night…..and it’s a book that came highly recommended by one of my very favorite reader friends…..