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Tag: conversation that matters

loopy days

loopy days bedsheet

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.”

or this….

“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…..

“can i come talk?”

the house was blanketed in little else but moonlight. the clock ticked from down the stairs and around a bend or two. the red digits that burn beside my bed–there only simply because they get the job done, there in the middle of the night when you roll and see them flashing the wee, wee hours–they broadcast, 11:01.

i was dozing when the footsteps padded up the walk. so all i heard was the click of the door. and the breathing that followed, the footsteps up the stairs.

i knew right away whose steps those were. you memorize those things.

and then i heard, through the gauzy mostly-darkness: “mom? can i come talk?”

and so, a summer’s night turned sweeter than a cantaloupe cut open, spilling, melon juices running off the cutting board, melon in july the sweet you wait for, perfect sugar stewed in sun and farmer’s field.

“mind if i lie down?’ the long-bodied boy asked, politely, though he didn’t wait for any grunt of answer, throwing his lanky self upon the sheets in darkness.

how long had it been since we’d lay side-by-side, this boy who as a babe slept every night curled beside me so i never missed his gruntings or his midnight peeps when once again he needed mama’s milk?

once he’d thrown his skinny jeans upon the sheets, his curls upon the pillow, i heard the deep, deep sigh.

i assure you i’d roused myself from sleep. i was wholly at attention. it’s what happens when your end-of-high-school child throws himself upon your bed: you listen hard. you savor every word.

what flowed beyond the sigh were sentences and paragraphs, whole stories of moonlit walks and beaches, of how he saw the world, and more importantly, the human heart.

as he talked, considered contours of the human race, the soul, what’s right, what’s not, i lay there soaking in the whole of it. every blessed drop of the notion that i’d a 17-year-old almost-man who understood through and through that wherever i am in the world, there’s a heart that wholly listens.

oh, there are many things that i am not. i grind myself daily that i’m not at the park, throwing, catching balls with the little one who would swell at such attentions. i do not make weekly trips to the library, as i wish i did, trudging home with loads of books and the little boy in tow, the one i cannot get, without squalls of protest, to lift a book. i wander past a treehouse, just built down the block, and think, now why didn’t i surrender a corner of the yard to old-fashioned summer construction, the sort engineered and executed by a child equipped with load of wood and pure imagination?

oh, i scold myself plenty. sadly heard too often as a child, shame on you. and shame i did absorb.

but there is one small arena of the heart, of motherhood, that i can proudly claim, learned the hard way, learned through all the bumps and bruises of the heart to which i’ve paid keen attention: i seem to know how to listen, how to take my children by the hand, traverse the landscape of the heart, the bumps, the planes, the high places.

it all came rushing in to me the other night, there in the murky moonlight darkness. i heard the boy i love tell stories, and in the ones he told, i heard that he too has learned to forge head on through the shadows of the heart, to seek the clearings, to know they’re just around the bend. to breathe blind faith into thickets all around.

at long last we heard footsteps on the bluestone walk. heard the click of the door, and more steps up the stairs. it was the father of the man-boy, home at last from work.

and there he found us, mother and son, lit only by the shafts of moonlight, telling stories, listening, as one day became another.

“can i come talk?” the child asks.

and the answer, always, always, says the mother: i am so deeply blessed that you lay your heart on mine.

holy God, bless the children and their stories and the mothers born to listen…..

whose heart did you turn to when you were growing up? whose heart do you turn to now? who turns to yours?