Summer and I don’t always get along so well. It’s hot, and I thrive in the cold. I must keep all the curtains drawn in order to keep out some of the heat, which keeps the house in a state of darkness, and I hunger for light, seeking it out in the night in stars and the moon itself. Add to this a brain that turns to sludge when you release it from the confines of a blessed routine, and it is no wonder that my own darling son has described me as “sleepy cool.”
Theo follows me around, all day, during the summer, talking. He inherited his dad’s gift for gab, and he gabbers all summer long. His range of topics is wide and actually quite interesting. Many times it is downright entertaining. (He once spent twenty minutes on the phone with my sister making her guess the sounds he was making. “What was that one?” “I don’t know.” “I was scratching my fingernail on the window screen.” “Ah.”) As a mom, I have an innate sense of the slipping-away quality of time, so as much as he habitually talks, I habitually listen. I know he won’t always be following me around. That’s not to say it doesn’t ride my nerves every now and then. Fortunately those nerves are rarely exposed until after he goes to bed, at which point Sean usually picks up the conversational slack. I only half-joke that Chloe might never talk because she can’t get a word in edge-wise.
I don’t mind, really. There are a million things boiling in my noggin, but my inability to clearly express them conversationally keeps my mouth shut and my hand moving across the page. I’ll admit, every now and then, I follow a rabbit trail in my own mind while they are talking to me. Let’s call this my public apology. (Sorry, boys.) My mind and body forget that they can move of their volition, without permission, or pronouncement, or waiting for the talker across from me to stop and take a breath, or wondering if they’ll follow me to the bathroom, because I really have to pee, and then wondering if that’s really what I want.
So when Theo started tennis camp this week, which lasts only a couple of hours each day, I knew just how I wanted to spend my time. I wrote it in big letters across the lines of my daily to-do list. WRITE! (Yes, I wrote the exclamation point.)
But when I got home from dropping him off, I was hungry. Hungry in a too-much-coffee, not-enough-water on a ninety-degree day hungry. Urgent. Nibbling was not an option. I got a small snack, with full plans to write just as soon as I could. I even sat down in the office, so I wouldn’t be tempted to clean the house. No fooling, forty-five minutes later I was still sitting there, puddling in a heat-induced coma. I am a slow eater, but it does not take that long to eat a cheese stick and a handful of blueberries. I hopped up, steadied myself from said hop, and moved my distracted and heat-wilted body to the desk. I was distracted because I was confused. Time does not belong to me. So when it is handed to me, free of charge, I stare at it like a blurry photograph. What is this? What am I supposed to do with it? I don’t even know what I’m looking at here.
I have discovered this about myself: I need to routinely exercise my freedom. This is the only way time will stay in focus, and I will know just what it is I want to do with any of should it come to me free. I do this in many ways, sometimes when others are home, but in my introverted nature, I usually feel compelled to wait until no one can see me. I dance. In many different and, I am certain, embarrassing ways. (Hips don’t lie, but they do sometimes throw my back out.) I sing at the top of my lungs to whatever Broadway melody I can find in iTunes first.
And. And. I put on my latest favorites from Spotify, the songs I thoroughly enjoy but don’t quite feel ready to commit to purchasing (we’re still dating), turn the volume to eleven, and I spin, at top speed, in my desk chair. This particular day, hungry as I was, even after my cheese stick and blueberries, I was hugging a giant purply speckled bowl of pasta salad in one arm, while wielding a fork in the other, laughing out loud. I’m pretty sure I emitted more than a single “wheeeee.” Every now and then I had to reverse the direction to keep my inner ear from sloshing around too much. I laughed and wondered what other serious grown-up types secretly spin like a pinwheel in their office chairs. Oh, you know they must.
I should be working, I thought, spearing a tortellini, and pushing my foot off the ground for another go-‘round, hugging the pasta bowl a little tighter to protect my lunch from the forces of physics.
I did finally work for a bit. I thought a bit about freedom and its value, and I could wax philosophical about that for another five hundred words. But, to give you a further glimpse into my life, Theo asked me today to watch him. Drink. His. Milk. (“No, Mom, seriously. Watch. I’m doing it differently.” “I don’t see it, Theo.” “Okay, what if I stand at a different angle? Watch me now.” “Ummm, sure. Look at that.”)