There were rides in the Cadillac, top down
Beatles loud on the radio.
After intense arguments
With my brother over
Who got to sit behind
Our father.

There were meandering walks on tree lined streets at the age of 15,
Giddy, stupid, and hungry
For bagels or cookies
but afraid
To go home.

I should have been home.
I should have worn shoes.
I should have followed everyone
else to college.

There was saying goodbye to my dad
For ten years.
There was speaking to my dad In the dark,
ten years after he died.

There were parties, so many parties.
There was takeout for dinner
On nights we weren’t picking at meals in restaurants
With cloth napkins served by waiters
We’d see later on
at the club.

I didn’t make choices,

I was along for the ride. In                                                                                                               between,
I slept like the dead in a
Bedroom cloaked by
Tightly closed, thick velvet
Curtains.

Then, came my son.
I didn’t choose him
any more
Than I chose anything else
In those days.

It took time
For me to make the transition.

For a long time, I was a daughter
Who mourned and drank
And wished she’d said goodbye
And I love you
While my father still knew who I was.

It took too long for me to
Step. The. Fuck. Up.

My dad has been gone
Forever.

I’m losing my son.

It seems like it was five minutes ago
I recognized I was his mother.

He’s known all along and
While he was waiting
For me,
he grew tired
And found
Ways to pass the time
On his way to becoming
A man.

I’m here now.

His shoes are in the hall.

His world is private,
On instagram
Riding shotgun or crouched in the backseat of an uber,
Or inside his dreams.

When I wake him up,
He always sounds surprised by my voice.

He used to cry
As easily
As some boys
Laughed at spongebob squarepants.
He doesn’t cry anymore.

I hear pop songs
About love
And I think of my son.

I want to tell him
Everything
But he’s
Already gone.

I wasted a long time
Waiting for a dead man
To speak.

The rest of my life
Belongs to the living.

When he comes home
I stay as close as I can,
Noting his tone,
Holding my cheek for a kiss,
Watching him as he moves
thru the kitchen and
Smears peanut butter on
bread.

Sometimes,
I don’t know him at all-
His voice belongs to a stranger.
When did he decide
he liked Pad Thai?
Extra spice, light on shrimp.

Once in a while, I see the smile or the way he holds his fork,
And I know to bring him milk
Or suggest he get some sleep.

It was easier,
In the days of
Gimlets versus Cosmos,
South End versus Brookline,
Backgammon or silly conversation.

But upstairs, right above my head,
There is a boy.
He is angry, sweet, and funny.

He calls me mom
even though
He believes with all his heart
I am an idiot
Who doesn’t understand a thing,
And tortures him by insisting
He put away his clothes.
He puts away his clothes.

I hope I am here
To witness
The best of him-
Which is going to be amazing.

My son, by age sixteen,
Has taught me more
Than everything I knew
Before him.

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Valentines Day

February 14, 2014

It’s Valentines Day.

Our day started out with my husband in full scale hysteria. He couldn’t find my car keys, he was afraid I’d forget about dentist’s appointment. Our son had left his cell phone at home. Our daughter hadn’t done a good job brushing her hair. All of these, and more, (the price of gas, if the pellet stove needed another cleaning, if he was to start getting tickets because we couldn’t afford to donate much to the policemen’s benevolent association…) were dancing around my beloved’s head this morning until his demeanor resembled a poodle on crack. No, I have never seen a poodle on crack, and after witnessing my husband in one of these moods, I can say with no hesitation at all, I don’t want to see a poodle on crack.

I don’t write much about my relationship with this man. In the tough times, I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to indulge in a one sided kvetch to the cyberworld and I wouldn’t be brave enough to post his side of the story. In the good times, we are in the middle of the good times, and I wouldn’t want to take time away from whatever moments of marital bliss to take notes for my readers.

And I’m not sure if we are in the middle of good times or bad times right now. Right now, I know that when he fusses and fumes about keys and appointments it is his very creative and irritating way of showing me he cares. He doesn’t want my teeth to fall out of my head, or leave me at home waiting for Triple A to come unlock my car for me, again. So when I tell him to “Shut Up!!!’ I try to say those words as lovingly as I can.
It briefly flitted thru my head that my gift to him this morning was not throwing a dirty sponge at his head.

I found my car keys. I made it to my appointment. And then, he picked me up from the dentist and took me to breakfast. A little egg slipped out of my mouth, novocaine was my appetizer. He reached over, and wiped it off my chin without saying a word.

A lot of the time I truly don’t know if he’s my one true love, the father of my children, or a really good friend that I fell into spending my life with. But I know I am a very, very lucky woman.

Because no matter how many times I tell him to shut up, he still has something to say to me at the end of the day. And I am happy to listen, especially if he’s not talking about what I’ve just lost or what I’m likely to forget.

Without him, I’d probably be wearing dentures and riding a bike.

Happy Valentines Day.