New Year’s Eve 2015, a street corner in Saratoga Springs, NY.
My boy Bentley and his friend Billy have been with us for a week, headed back to their respective homes in Tennessee at an obscene hour tomorrow morning. We’ve had a great time together. I am always amazed how you can blink and it’s gone: eight days, just like that. I tried to arrange at least one Fun Thing for them each day they were here. Road warriors, those two: a thousand miles in two days to get here, and then run-outs near and far pretty much every day, to Londonderry, Manchester, and Bennington, and also Cambridge and Saratoga, NY. In short order they both figured out the singular truth about life in rural Vermont (Bentley already knew it): the correct answer to the question, Where is <fill in the blank>? is always, far, far away. Or maybe more appropriately: in a galaxy far, far away. Yep, we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens in one of the teeny local theatres a couple of days ago; the two of them have already hatched plans to see it in 3D when they return home.
Some things never change, to wit:
At any given moment during the past week the two of them could be observed with one of several electronic devices that followed them here. It cracks me up to observe them sitting in such close proximity whilst texting each other. Or me. At first blush, it’s ridiculous. But the conversation most likely includes things people nearby (including the patrons at our favorite fish and chips joint in downtown Bennington) may not want to hear anyway.
Saratoga was about as far afield as we ventured during our week together. In the process of searching for parking in a very crowded downtown on New Year’s Eve I came across this for the first time:
It smelled strongly of sulphur and looked like something out of a Harry Potter tome, one of our favorites, the boy’s and mine. Not so sure about the purported “digestive curative” properties. We much preferred these, at the Boca Burger around the corner and down the street:
I am still getting used to the idea that it is okay to buy my kid a cocktail—something decidedly more potent than butter beer. Yes, he looks fifteen. He is many years older and quite “legal,” although the waiter took some convincing. When he was finally satisfied the boy is more than 21 he quipped, Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it. (We’ll never tell.)
I’ve loved having my son glued to me for eight glorious days. Little boy smell was once replaced by middle school smell, thence adventure boarding school smell (requiring windows rolled down on trips home, even in winter), heavy smoker smell (an especially bad chapter for a much-too-young kid), and now a heavily perfumed smell <cough cough>, preferable to all the rest. He is downstairs snoozing, ready for the road tomorrow, a long haul home, part of which he’ll drive alone. I miss him and he is still here. I will be weepy when he is gone. And I will lament the things that are still not right, and I will worry about the future. I’ll probably chew my nails.
Sometimes it is hard to let go of the past, even when parts of it were truly terrible. There is still so much uncertainty and turmoil.
So, 2016, what’s it gonna be? Will you be pleasant and affable, or a royal pain in the ass? Will you cozy up and offer a warming glass of something nourishing, or a bitter drink that promised much but lost its fizz? Fair weather friend or a keeper of promises? Better be good.
So long, 2015: you played nice, mainly. And godspeed, dear Bentley. I love you more than you’ll ever know.~Mum