RUNNING THROUGH LIFE….
…has been a way to find a deeper connection with my surroundings. I’ve run through streets of Madrid, Spain at an hour many were still coming home from the night before… and on isolated beaches on the island of Molokai where the only other person aside from my husband and I was an older man in his underwear. But a small town in Iowa took me to places both back and forward in time last week. In our busy lives moving from one task to the next we don’t often get to steal away for these moments of reflection.
I time traveled this week. I went back in time, fast-forwarded and stood still all at once. No wonder I slept so well on the road. It could also be explained by the complete lack of electronics. My mother decided in her seventies that was not something she needed to do. A lack of Internet service was both a curse and a blessing.
I’m perfectly happy where I live now. I’m thrilled in fact. I pinch myself at the view and the wildlife I enjoy. Yet, I cross the border to my home state and inevitably my eyes well up. I’m leaving mountains and entering cornfields and it’s not allergies that make me teary. It’shome.
I stayed with my mom who at 89 is still in her own house, drives too fast and watches over her older friends. She shared equal parts information I’d heard before and incredibly current event information from the political mayhem happening on the news. She refuses treats at bridge-club and has to deal with low-sugar shaming by her 96-year old friends. Peer pressure it seems never ends.
It’s not new to you if you’re a Boomer to have a parent tell you a story, again. That wasn’t what made me raise my eyebrows this trip. Mom needed to write me a check for something. She wrote it to my maiden name. I’ve not used that name for 24 years. I however, was thrilled it was my first name and not my older sisters. It’s the little things.
While home, I made a short drive to the university town where my son is sharing an apartment with two golf teammates. I had this unfulfilled need to see where he lays his head at night. It had been over a year since I settled him into his first off-campus abode. Maybe he moved because it was condemned. He didn’t share details. It may be a part of the college experience but it’s something you hope becomes a memory and not a lifestyle. I was pleasantly surprised to find the new bachelor pad is an upgrade from last year.
He made all the decisions about groceries with ease and indicated with domestic expertise he needed wasp killer for the nest outside his roommate’s window. I left before offering unwelcome advice about how to make that happen with less risk. Live and learn. It’s still sinking in that he won’t live under my roof anymore and that when he does come home he’ll feel more like a guest. He’s a wasp-whispering grown up.
Then again maybe another text will come like this last week’s. “How do I quit?” It was a first real job with real responsibilities and a great opportunity. Superman hadn’t seen the incredible time debt he was setting himself up for when he said yes last spring. He hadn’t been in that situation before. I had to admit it felt good to be on the receiving end of a text asking for some advice. For a minute I was as necessary as when he had his teeth pulled and the time he broke his arm again.
I don’t know why it felt awkward to tell him that I was proud of him for applying and landing the job in the first place. I was proud of him taking it knowing he could have had a part time job that would have given him more flexibility. It needed to be said but it didn’t seem quite as effective as the cupcakes I sent him when he got the job. I think maybe I should order cupcakes for his last day. Cupcakes aren’t exactly on my list of health food but they seem more effective when words fail. Chocolate speaks volumes. I did manage to get baby carrots and fruit into the cart at the store, after all.
He headed back to classes after the weekend and I focused my visit on mom. Running through streets where I grew up each morning is a trip in itself. As I made my way past houses where I babysat in high school or had countless slumber parties, names of people I hadn’t thought about in years flooded my mind. I remembered who had spectacular holiday lights and the best lawns. I ran past the garage where we played Annie-Annie-Over for hours and spied the old shed where we’d played “school.”
My step-dad is buried in a small cemetery just a mile or so away from my mom’s home. I ran the other way though to say hello. The sixth hole at the golf course has a memorial brick bearing his name. The hours of golfing, driving the cart, fishing balls out of the creek rushed back in. I smiled and ran my way back into town thinking about how we’d passed that legacy on to my son.
I made the drive back to my college town remembering all the times I’d done it loaded first with dirty then freshly folded laundry. I remember the time I drove it on black ice just to make it home in time to decorate the tree. I flashed back to the road trips I made to see a boyfriend at home when I was 18. Running along a country road that first morning he drove past and stopped to chat. Yesterday became today for a moment.
I wrote my reflections my realizing I had just a day left until I filled the tank to head west again. Mountain views and even great boots can’t replace “home.” I’ll cry again when I cross the border, even knowing I’ll be back in five weeks. Then I’ll follow my kid around on a golf course again, something I’ve missed for the last couple years. I’ll have to keep my distance this time since he’s in a new role and I’ll have to assume mine. I look forward to watching him step into his future, just a twinge of resistance, hoping he might still turn and catch my eye when he makes a long putt or misses a green. I can’t stay in the past either. I’ll take the new journey into parenting an adult.
I’ll miss the sweet boy whose head used to be intoxicating to me. My heart still fills with pride watching him step onto a tee box and take command of a driver or step off the last green shaking hands with the other players. It’s a gentleman’s game my stepdad used to say. I’ve raised a gentleman.
Does that make me a lady? Could that be why people suddenly call me ma’am?