Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Ties That Bind
Special to The Spokesman-Review
May 11, 2010
Slipping into a parking spot across the street from the high school, I turned off the engine and waited for my daughter to come out the door.
Enjoying the quiet of the car, a welcome respite from the noise of a busy day, lulled by the warm sun made even warmer by the window, I relaxed as I watched the students as they gathered outside. Some were waiting for rides others were just socializing, happy to be released.
I noticed a pair on the corner, a girl and a boy who couldn’t have been more than freshmen. They still had the fresh, slightly awkward look of of a pair of leggy, yearling colts.
They were standing close together, and I could see that they were both focusing on something in the boy’s hands. Then, I noticed the cord dangling from their ears and I realized they were sharing the earphones for the boy’s iPod. His music was hers. While she studied the screen of the music player, the boy studied her. When she glanced up, he looked away, embarrassed to be caught. Occasionally she risked a peek at him, through her lashes, quick and surreptitious. It was a dance of glances.
He kept looking out at the street, scanning the cars going by, watching for his ride. He must have seen it coming because he quickly said something to the girl and reclaimed the earphone, coiling it and stuffing it into his pocket. Then, a bit stiffly, he leaned over and wrapped his arms around the girl. She returned the embrace.
They looked like a couple stepping out onto the dance floor for a first slow dance. There was a bit of hesitation, a slight distance between their bodies that hinted of first kisses and sweaty palms. When his mother pulled up to the curb he hurried to the car and they drove away.
The girl, clutching her books to her chest in the way of schoolgirls in the movies and romance novels, turned to walk down the hill. As she hurried toward her own ride, for a moment, she forgot herself and skipped one little skipping step, like the little girl she had been not so very long ago. She got into her mother’s car and away they went.
Watching my own daughter make her way to me I thought about the scene I had just watched. About the way the pair had been tethered, sharing a single pulse of music, shoulder to shoulder sneaking peeks at one another, before joining their mothers.
I thought about the women who were even at that moment asking “How was your day?” and “What did you do today?” and getting only shrugs and noncommittal grunts in return.
I glanced over at my own child as she grunted and shrugged at my questions.
I realized then that each of us, the three women in a crowd of parents driving home with our silent, precious, adolescent cargo, on some level, still believes that the cord that bound us to our offspring is still intact. A spider’s silk umbilicus of love and worry and pride.
But what we haven’t thought about is who might be replacing us at the other end of that thread. A girl. A boy. A new love. A new song.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons.” Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country.