In town, I saw the succession of simple white blazes. The discipline of following again felt like a long sigh. I slipped gratefully back into the habit of paying attention – not only to the marks – but to the narrow slice of the world they led me through.
When my youngest son was still at home, he frequently raided my closet, making off with my shirts and socks mostly, sometimes a jacket or a belt. I retaliated, using his t-shirts for workouts, and we exchanged words. “Don’t even think about it, buster!!” I’d scream as he headed for school in my polo shirt. “That’s a really bad look, fatso!” He’d scream as I headed for the gym in his Nike t. It became kind of a ritual, each of us making our objections known, but never forcing the other to actually remove the purloined garment. Now that he’s gone and I have free access to all of what he left behind, I can’t bring myself to raid his closet because I know I won’t have the pleasure of that connection. And I find myself hoping that he took something of mine to college, and that he’s wearing it proudly.
Hi, Guys. That black thing with the buttons on it and the wires that go into the wall, it’s called a “telephone”. It’s an excellent device for maintaining communication with your parents. I know. It’s old school. Even more old school than email. But I don’t want to “talk” via email because, let’s be real, you’ll never read my wall of words about prostate issues and lawn care. And I don’t want to Skype because you don’t want your roommates to see you talking to “Daddy”, and I don’t want to see the keg they mounted on your bookcase. And I don’t want to text or ichat, cuz OMG Im nver sure if yer writing that way on purps or u acshully nver lernt to spell & punk2ate. And don’t call on my cell, because everybody hates everybody who yaks on a cell. I just want to sit in a comfortable chair in our quiet home and hear your voices. Once a week. So, please…call me on the black thing.
There are the times when our nest is a sad and empty place.
Then I get something like this in the mail, and the scales of feeling shift.
How can I NOT be happy at the sight of all three of our chicks together?
But then I realize how much I wish I were there with them.
And so it goes.
PS Photo of the boys courtesy of the phenomenally talented Lana Barkin.
We made a lot of promises to each other on the Camino. Something would happen and we’d say, “We’ve got to remember this when we get back home. We need to find a way to bring this (lesson, or insight, or feeling) back with us and integrate it into our regular life.”
We’ve said that before, when we’ve gone away. Hasn’t worked out so well.
On our way back from Santiago we had a few hours to kill in Barcelona. So we hopped a bus to the center of town and went to visit La Pedrera.
The building is chock full of fantastical flourishes.
Perhaps less show-stopping, but one of my favorite spots nonetheless was….
I loved the way Gaudi took something as prosaic as a wall in a stairwell and made it sing.
We promised right then to remember, when we got back, to make sure to give more space for art to enliven our everyday.
And yesterday, in the spirit of keeping our promise, we went with some good pals to see the Ken Price show at LACMA.
We both were lucky to know Kenny. Art was his Camino and he walked it every day.
Among the lyrical, sensuous, witty, drop-dead gorgeous pieces, the expression of a whole, good life in work, one small and lively cup caught my eye.
There’s a quote of Kenny’s on one wall:
“I make concrete objects that stay the same pretty much for the whole time they exist, and you can go away, and you can come back, and maybe you’ve changed, but the object will still be the same.”
We’ve gone away and we’ve come back.
And maybe we’ve changed.
I try to keep their doors closed, their empty bedrooms out of sight, especially the one recently vacated by our youngest, Eliot. I don’t think I need to explain why. Okay, I’ll explain why. It’s my way of shutting out complicated emotions around living in this newly empty nest. Until this morning, it was kind of working. Then I emptied a biking pack for my first ride since the summer and found this stuff. Eliot’s t-shirt. His towel. A bike lock…From the last time we biked to the beach together before he left for college.
The first email in my inbox this morning was from our friend, Mary, with a suggestion for our new life.
Subject: You and Sam
Mary knows we have long been planning a move and that the Hudson River Valley is on our radar. Hence, her Red Hook real estate suggestion. But running a B&B? Pretty confident it’s never crossed my mind.
My first reaction was something between a chortle and guffaw. I’m famous (in our admittedly tiny circle) for once having told some complaining customers at the Simon Pearce Restaurant that they were “lucky to get a table.” Sam is famous for, well, not, shall we say, being all that sociable.
But then I started thinking about it….
While waiting for the coffee to brew, I mentioned it to Sam.
“We’re not going to be serving people breakfast,” he announced.
“Well we could do it like they do in Spain,” I countered. “Croissants. Room temp frittata. Fruit. No cooking required. All you’d have to do is make the coffee.”
“I’d rather open a gas station. People come, you have a few minutes conversation…and…they…leave.”
Deciding that 6:45AM might not have been the optimal time to address our future plans, I retreated to my office, coffee in hand.
PPS Mary, keep those ideas for our new life coming. We’re wide open – after 9AM.