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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

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Carry me back to the days I knew then

So, after cub scouts tonight, my son and I hit the bar.

I was planning to drop him at the house, put the younger kids to bed, put some lipstick on and join my friends at the Rod Bryan campaign party in the backroom of a local pizza joint. But then an impulse just swept over me, as impulses are prone to do, and instead of dropping him off, I told my second grader wolf cub to run inside and grab his homework so he could come downtown with me.

I am so glad I did. You know, in some ways I overcompensate for my unconventional upbringing. We do scouts. We do soccer. We do church on Sundays. We have regular bedtimes. And I never, ever take my children to bars.

My father's last years were dark, and they cast a long shadow. Being with my son tonight reminded me it wasn't always so. As I was turning my wallet inside out for quarters for the pinball machine, I remembered afternoons at the hotel pub with Dad, holding out my hand to receive quarters for the jukebox in the back. Play Mull of Kintyre, he'd say, and I'd skip back through the dark, smoky room and flip the 45s all the way through until I found it, and then come back to rest my head on his shoulder while he held court from his captain's chair.

I remembered the thrill of being privy to the adult conversation around the table. I didn't understand all of it, but I grasped the largesse of it. These were often faculty colleagues from the university, or visiting artists and musicians. They were excited about things. They had ideas.

I never had the sense that they talked any differently just because I was around. They never talked down to me. Neither were they indifferent to my presence. They seemed to regard me as a Person. They seemed to feel that I belonged.

This flashed through my mind tonight as Lennie and I were engaged in one of our typically passionate and intense discussions. You know, you have those friendships where you dispense with the small talk. You see each other, and you just Get Into It. I hope you do, anyway, because Lennie and I have that. At one point, I became aware that my son was raptly listening, and I had to pause and consider whether I was okay with that. I decided that I was. There was nothing harmful to him in our conversation, and probably nothing that he could retain from it come morning. But he was immersed in the energy that was flowing from it, the energy of his mother's Person. It's strong tonic. I am my father's daughter. But then, he is his mother's son. Maybe he came to me because there is something in me that he needs, something more essential and less manageable than cub scouts and an 8 o'clock bedtime.

I believe our parents are chosen for us. The people we are set up to love the best are themselves set up to wield the blade. To have a child is to consent to inflict our own woundedness on the innocent, to pile the sticks--knowingly, sorrowfully--upon the pyre. Mother and son. Father and daughter. Bound up together, counting on love to reprieve us, to be the hand that stays.

Far have I travelled, and much have I seen
Dark distant mountains with valleys of green
Past painted deserts, the sun sets on fire
As he carries me home to, the Mull of Kintyre

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Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

a beautiful blog. makes me sad and happy all at the same time..........

2:58 PM  
Blogger becca said...

You are amazing - your writing is so beautiful and heartfelt...Everyday!!

10:03 AM  

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