Back to the house where I usually live with my husband and sons and cats, I feel a bit like the upcoming Transit of Venus. A tiny spot slowly making its way across the face of the broiling hot sun. They were a great support while I stayed at my mother's for almost two-and-a-half months, but once here, I have to re-establish not only my female presence but also my parental authority, such as they are. To make the transition easier, I came home on a night my sons had planned to go to my daughter's to watch the Devils. All it took for me to decide to accompany them was one look at my mostly dead house plants, a few Christmas decorations still up, including the creche, and no food in the refrigerator. Add two bathrooms that needed cleaning.... "Home, where my thoughts escapin', home, where my music's playin', Home, where my love lies waitin' silently for me..."
It helped seeing the grandkids, who update me on their lives (the oldest started writing chapters of a story, for the fun of it; the middle one is learning about McCarthyism and haiku; and the littlest seems so much like his mother, with his brown eyes, olive complexion, total love of hockey, and boundless energy). I relax into with-my-gang-watching-hockey-mode, listening to pre-adolescent jokes about farting and my daughter's alternating groaning and yelling at the players or the refs. During intermissions, I told a few stories which made them all laugh. At one point, I said, "Why are you guys laughing at me? These are true stories." My daughter said, while laughing, "Mom, we know you're in the middle of Liar Quest, otherwise we'd probably believe you. Don't feel bad; you're adding years to our lives making us laugh." That night, the game went into overtime and the Devils won...."And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band...."
I had written about Memorial Day, but didn't want to call it that. I may need help with other things, but titles are ordinarily not a big problem. So I head back for their advice. The older one said something to the effect of "I'm sick of hearing about your writing site drama," putting in his new earbuds, face turning to stone. The other one says nothing; he's on Facebook. I say NOTHING and walk out of the room, closing the door. My younger son follows, asking, "How long is it? Can it be read in less than five minutes?"
I say, "Yes, probably less." So he reads it and says the best part is about the Vietnam vet, then he heads into the kitchen to make some monstrosity on his George Forman Grill, involving bread-meat-cheese-bread that he dips in hot sauce and bleu cheese dressing, with great satisfaction...."And every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be, Homeward bound, I wish I was homeward bound...."
I go back and tell them the title I chose. No response. They are in their "We Are Working On Things You Couldn't Possibly Understand On Computers --Do Not Disturb--Zone." As I start to leave the Zone, I overhear the older one ask: what did she write about now? The younger one: you know, the stuff Mom notices when she goes to a parade. This is when I turn back and try my latest parenting technique of pseudo-rap (as opposed to my MLK impersonation which no longer works). They actually listen, but the thought balloons above their heads say the same thing, "We are doomed to become crazy, just like her, one day."
I seize the moment to throw in a little guilt...."if it weren't for modern medicine, I would have died giving birth to the both of you....two days of excruciating labour, hemorrhaging...."
"Mom, you're getting gross," one of them warns me...."But all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity, Like emptiness and harmony, I need someone to comfort me...."
Since I'm on a roll, and with twenty-somethings, the windows of opportunity are microscopic, I add, "And besides, if I had become an architect instead of marrying Your Father, you wouldn't even exist." (This is a new one, but true and something I wouldn't have said when they were teens.)...."Home, where my thoughts escapin', home, where my music's playin', Home, where my love lies waitin' silently for me, silently for me...."
Realising they've temporarily lost, they acquiesce. One says, "thanks, Mom, you're awesome!" The other says, "what he said." Easily satisfied, that's enough validation for me, so I leave them to their machines and megabytes and Kid Rock singing with Slash, "I Hold On." The last thing I hear from one son to the other,..."at least she no longer dances like a hippie to get our attention."
I hold on because I won't let go
Even though I know there's solitude below
I hold on because I can't let go
I refuse to let the hands of fate unfold
I hold on
And when the darkness turns a day
I won't let you drift away
Conscience fades and some let go
But I hang on cause I know
When seasons change
Lyrics are from Homeward Bound by Paul Simon and I Hold On by Slash and Kid Rock.