That usually means something else isn’t. It always means something else isn’t okay.
E. called twice on Saturday. S. hollered through the bathroom door, over running water from the shower. “E needs for you to call as soon as you’re done! He already called twice.” We’d been messaging back and forth. He probably wants to pick something up on the way here. Ice cream, or maybe my favorite coffee.
I finished without rushing and returned his call.
“Yeah, you know that yield sign where you have to crank your head all the way back and it’s a stupid traffic flow design? The brand-new Mini-Cooper in front of me didn’t go when it was clear. We’re exchanging information now, I’ll be there in a bit.”
He sounded calm. That’s what made me nervous. When he got home, I took a look. License plate was bent. Otherwise, no major damage. Fender bender minus the bent fender. I looked at the pictures of the other car, walked into the house, and discussed the next steps, grateful it wasn’t worse.
What do you do when you’re waiting? When you’re stuck between past and future? When you have to be in the moment, but you’re unsure about what to do while you’re there? Doom scroll. Start cleaning. Baking. Pour another cup of coffee and shake the coconut milk to oblivion to get it a little frothy, even though nothing will save the burned coffee taste? But you drink it anyway. Do you dare go upstairs? Stop thinking about what’s to come? Over think what’s about to come?
It isn’t bad. It’s bittersweet. I keep playing back all of my failures, but will myself to shove those out. I play back all of the successes. Setting up his room, soon after we moved in. Pale blues and purples with John Lennon themed nursery decor we found at Babies R Us. The nights I’d army crawl out of his room on my belly after putting him to sleep–this kid rarely slept–so he wouldn’t see me and start screaming. The itsy bitsy spider my hand puppeted every morning to wake him up, running up and down his arm and ending in a tickle fest. His Thomas the Tank Engine train table we scored on Craigslist and all of his trains. Then the Disney Cars. A stint with SpongeBob. Then the LEGO sets. So many LEGO sets.
A big boy bed. Birthday sleepovers. Stuffed animals. Foxy. Kisser, a red and white giraffe with heart shaped spots I bought him one Valentine’s day that got left behind at a department store. Some gentle soul took Kisser to the shoe department and we drove back to pick it up. Turtley, a plush sea turtle I bought him on a field trip. A bulletin board tacked with letters from Grandma and a few teachers, notes I’d leave in his lunch box. Pictures of K from across the street, friends since 5th grade. Prayer cards.
Later, I stopped going into his room. “I need my privacy.” A cello took up my space. Then a keyboard. Guitar. A desk with my old laptop. Pandemic learning when we rarely saw him, but there wasn’t much learning going on, or so I thought. Online senior year because that’s how it turned out. But I’m supposed to focus on successes. Despite the bumpy last few years, he composed a piece of music, played in a community orchestra for a year, found a job the week after graduation, saved money, made a plan to move out, researched apartments, asked questions, found a roommate, combed through an apartment lease, made deposits, and packed his room.
He’s on his way to pick up the key. My husband will help him load those first boxes, then his roommate will stop by to help. I can only watch because I can’t lift anything heavy right now (doctor’s orders). I don’t know how I’ll react yet. Make jokes. Laugh. Cry. Most likely, I’ll give lots of reminders.
The big LEGO sets will move into our living room for a few days until he can transport them. Since he enrolled in The University of Life (pandemic killed his quest for higher education for now), he’s been home. However, we didn’t see him often because of work and time with his friends. I should be ready for this. He’s ready for this.
I haven’t looked in his room yet. I sit here and wait.