I changed the picture on my profile – not so much for the “me” part but for the “M in (dark) Pink” part. The shot is from Carlsbad, California, a moment on a bench in the middle of a field of mums last spring for a self-portrait. The expression on M’s face is one of amusement, curiosity, expectation, and blissful innocence. The day is in front of her – she’s going to get lemonade, she’s going to lunch at Legoland, she’s going to ride the rides and feel the ocean breeze against her pink-cheeked face.
Her day is going to be dazzling.
I love the portrait – so it’s there, a picture of what’s to come, what must come – oh we can’t wait for what’s next!
By now, M is done with her first ballet class – she was so excited this morning, she could barely eat. In fact her bagel, delicately spread with I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Butter and dotted with raisins (a raisin bagel can never have too many raisins) sits in the refrigerator, waiting to be eaten. A breakfast skipped in anticipation of much better things.
D called me from school to let me know that J got a “B+” on his history test, a test D was sweating over because J was left to study on his own. No help yesterday from Dad, no pre-testing. The reports from the other classes are good so far, J seems much more in control of his impulses, not fighting with other students, more attentive. We’re feeling pretty good about dumping all the teachers from last semester in favor of bringing J into D’s fold. (Last night, D called from a school meeting telling me last semester’s teachers all won awards…D said he wanted to throw up because point-blank, these teachers had completely dropped J as a student due to his special needs. The last and only e-mail I received from one of those former teachers right before the semester ended was cold and bitchy in reply to a request to gather work he'd not completed. I was pleading for help, pleading to help him get a "C" so he could end the semester on a positive note. None of the other teachers ever responded to the same request, no phone calls, no notes, not a stitch of help. Two of the four teachers awarded him "D's" and low citizenship scores, putting J on the "ineligible list" which prevents him from participating in extracurricular activities for the next weeks. These "rewarded" teachers did it in the face of and despite my pleas for help. Nice.)
I saw the doctor again about my shoulder – waited two and half hours to get a shot of cortisone that surprisingly didn’t hurt as much as my grandmother said it would. God bless my grandmother and her ability to soothe hurts… “Mija, I still feel that shot in my shoulder to this day, the pain. Tan mucho dolor!” Granted, the shots she remembers were given to her sometime in the 70's. Two hours in the waiting room and about forty-five minutes in the doctor’s examining room. I need an MRI because there’s a chance we’re looking at a torn rotator cuff. I’m old, I’m an old person who doesn’t exercise enough. In honor of my lack of exercise, I drive through the McDonalds and order a chicken sandwich…the crispy chicken sandwich…and eat it happily in the quiet of the house as I watch a soap opera. All I needed was a robe and slippers.
As I write this, A is looking over my shoulder and reading. I shoo him away as he says, “D is for…dad...”
The boys need to be picked up – so I leave to get A first. Because I also have to pick up J who gets out of school at 2:35, I bring a Tupperware bowl full of chips and several scoops of salsa (put into another Tupperware bowl) – the dog stayed home. Grabbed two sodas on my way out the door, having passing the fridge. The bowls slide a little on the front seat and so I reach and keep them still, a warm breeze coming in from the outside. The heat, the trees lining the suburban streets, the ranch-style homes, the sound of leaves being whipped by the wake of my SUV reminds me of afternoons spent at a boyfriend’s house when I was in high school. I remember the guilt of those afternoons – my parents had no idea what their daughter was up to…in a home alone with a boy. The heat is welcome, the pushy breeze bringing with it memories and a glance of a future.
When I see A, he’s not smiling but I can tell it’s a pretense of seriousness. He breaks in to a huge grin when he comes in the car, pulling out a certificate, saying, “Mom, I won an award for the being the BEST reader.”
Normally, most people imagine an exclamation point after such an announcement – not for A. He always speaks in a muted manner; he underspeaks unless he’s angry and agitated.
While A munches on chips and salsa (“That’s good salsa,” he mumbled as we drove over the train tracks, passing the liquor store and our favorite Ray’s Market) and I read my latest acquisition, House of Leaves, we wait in the mild heat in a line of cars until J gets out of school. We see him quickly – his long and thick brown hair that falls in his eyes is immediately recognizable. He grins when he approaches, grinning for nothing.
“School was good.”
The afternoon has started – the house will be noisy with the kids fighting, eating, playing drums, watching T.V., opening and closing the refrigerator, and asking for things, always asking. I will be in my office reviewing some writing I’ve done, a test for Business Law due tomorrow morning for copying, and an e-mail or two I sent out. Funny on the e-mail, funny how amazingly awkward I am when it comes to chatting with friends and even family. How funny that when talking to someone who matters, my words fumble and things never sound like how I mean them. D will come home soon to a messy house, to dusty shelves, to defrosting pork chops on the counter, to a dog on a mad dash across the street, followed by four people…hair flying, bare feet and shoed feet…all screaming, “SASSY!!!”
Something’s going to happen next…and we’re waiting…amused, curious, expectant, and blissfully innocent.