I attended a school outing with Sawyer class today. I have mentioned before that there are a lot of people i grew up with in York on this town. I saw a few, and then stood chatting with another mother of a girl in Sawyers class. Kathy Bowen Butler walked up and said “oh you found each other.” Or some such… the mom and i looked confused. Then she introduced us by our full, maiden names. Yep. Went to York. Both of us. 25 years later, making new old friends every day. #pleasantville
An ageing giant dog chasing fireflies on a spring evening next to a river, cooled by the breeze of a waterfall, under a bright half moon. #pleasantville
There’s a robin in the ash tree, facing the south.
He is singing sweetly:
Mine! This is mine! My tree!”
From the elm in the back I hear his friend
This one too! mine!
And another in the apple tree by the river:
Don’t even try it! Mine!
The south facing aspen robin moves, perching over my car, and shits. he is silent, and glares at me. Robins are so passive aggressive.
Across the coach road, route four, my road, the highway…
A mourning dove (note the U. It’s important.) cries
Well fine! But this? This is mine. Tonight. Unless, you know… you want it. I hear there’s room in the old shed, if, you know, you need us to move.
And the meek shall inherit the earth.
The cardinals are silent, they chased the jays out weeks ago, and need no proclamations.
A flash of tangerine and slate, and an oriole lands on the dead tree across from me. He’s new to town, as is his wife and their couple-friend. He looks at me closely, cocking his head this way and that. Orioles were the center of the bingo card of bird feeder watching when I was a kid. I don’t know their song, I’ve met so few. He chirps at me. I shrug helplessly. He chirps again, a questioning lilt.
Oh no, they’re not bothering me.
I don’t know what I mean by that, but he does. He flies sure-winged to the cluster of aspen that grows at the end of the road, unclaimed, and settles in.
His nest will be the first to see the dawn.
My co-worker just called to straighten out a delivery issue with a vendor and mentioned to the service agent
“you know, this is the fourth time this has happened in four months.”
“oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Said the rep. “You know, we just try our best!”
Seriously? Your company line in the face of a 0% success rate in four months is “We just try our best”?
This is why those participation trophies for losers were a bad idea.
When, for his 18th Birthday, your son is given the option of doing pretty much whatever he wants, within a given budget, and he chooses – comes up with the idea on his own – to spend the day driving aimlessly with his mother in search of interesting roadside attractions and a good Pandora station.. then, that is.. without a doubt, when you KNOW you have won at parenting.
We took Rte 9 out of town, and then at some point we took a right, and then a left, and then just for giggles we zoomed up the highway. We stopped at the Kennebunk rest stop, sort of a practice stop, and besides, they have a starbucks there.
I kept asking Tris where he wanted to go. Left or right? Take this exit? Want to see that museum? He kept shrugging noncommittally.
We found ourselves in Portland, on the water front, and we crept through traffic, goggling like tourists at the tourists. One sign caught our eye. It was painted with elegant flourishes and pale silhouettes on deep brown background. We tried to make out what it said.
“Brown… Tranny’s? Said Tris.
I stared, and cocked my head, and ran through my entire knowledge of fonts and vocabulary.
“Yep. I do believe that pub is called Brown Tranny’s” I said.
The slow plod of traffic was fortunate then, because we were laughing too hard to drive properly. We proceeded along the waterfront to the very end, and then turned in to a hidden, tiny parking lot. After waiting patiently for someone using a backup cam to back and fill their car out of a spot twenty seven billion times, without ever turning to see that they had miles of road behind them, we parked.
I had to pee, and hurried over to the meter to feed it and get my stupid little slip of paper. I hate those stupid meters, by the way. Loathe them, passionately, and no amount of logic will make me like them. But I digress.
I tried to feed a dollar bill in to the meter. It was rejected, as were eight subsequent ones, and one five. Tris tried, with no better luck. I don’t carry cards, so we had to pay cash or move. After much cursing, a little laughter, and several new steps added to the Pee Dance on my part, we gave up, and got back in the car.
At the end of the waterfront, I drove directly under a flock of seagulls who shit, with precision and alacrity and above all volume, over the entirety of my car. We decided that was a sign, and fled the city, stopping only to use the facilities at a friendly hippie food co-op. There I bought a soda and an iced tea to the tune of six bucks, and then spent the rest of the day saying to Tristen “It smells like hippie in here. Doesn’t it smell like hippie in the car? Like .. Nag Champa?” before realizing the aroma was actually IMBEDED in the glass bottles. Seriously.
After our foiled and aborted attempt at visiting the city of Portland, Tristen admitted to me that he really just did want to drive. He didn’t want to go anywhere in particular, or walk around, not really.
So we drove. We found the Way Way historic ice cream shop, and we found a Pandora station we could both agree on. We found a general store that looked a lot like one we’d been to in Utah, and we admired the scenery and the cars. Tris punched my arm for every single VW Bug, and I realized with a delighted exclamation that if I knock him flat TOMORROW, on his actual BIRTHDAY it’s no longer child abuse but just simple assault!
Late in the afternoon we found ourselves at a crossroads. We could head home, or we could head to Gorham, pronounced Gorram. The choice was obvious, and we confused the citizens of a small town by photographing Tris in front of their bank sign in the late afternoon of a spring Saturday.
We did head home then, but the long way. A 40 mile cruise on route four, with one stop at a salvage yard / antique store/ junk shop that ate up a full hour and possibly crossed inter dimensional lines.
By six thirty we were back in South Berwick, exhausted, and starving. We counted our cash and realized we’d spent next to nothing. With just enough left in the days budget we sat down to a birthday steak dinner at Isidore’s on the rocks, where we played hangman on Tristen’s new DS and laughed about all the great nothing we’d done all day.
When Tris was an infant, we lived in Georgia. We’ve driven 95 from tip to tip. We’ve gone west to Vermont on a whim, and we’ve conquered the Southwest in a summer.
So to end 18 years of child hood, I truly can think of no greater gift to give or receive than today. A day in the car with my first son. Happy Birthday, Kiddo. I love you.
A little girl across the street spent dusk singing Uptown Funk at the top of her lungs in time with her bouncing on a trampoline. It was lovely. #plesantville
It was a Terry Pratchett sort of day. Tristen’s 18th birthday, and no plan in place lead us to leisurely wanderings, and eventually Barnes and Noble. Tristen chose a book, a grouping of shorts by Sir Terry that we hadn’t read before. “It’s sad.” he said. “LIke super depressing.” But it was, in the end, what he wanted. I carried it down the strip mall without a bag, and at the Kitchen Store, a young man stopped me. “Pratchett is my favorite author.” he said. It was a challenge. I nodded. “Ours too.” I said, and we parted company with a million things unsaid.
A few nights ago I began re-reading Night Watch, which is a Sam Vimes novel about the police of Ankh-Mopork.. and also, I’d forgotten, about riots. The novel ends in death and funerals, and with a chosen few who wear lilac sprigs in remembrance. That novel tradition has carried over in to the ‘real’ world, where Disc Worldians and Pratchett fans wear lilac on the 25th of May.. tomorrow.. Memorial Day here.. not only to remember the police and armed forces who have fallen, but in support of those suffering from Alzheimer’s, which just this year took Sir Terry from us for good. So if you see someone wearing lilac tomorrow, looking wistful and a little weepy, Smile. Tell them The Turtle Moves. Mention Binky, or Quoth, or just nod and give your best salute.