Friday, August 21, 2015

The Turning of a Page

This morning I am texting with my son who is in Paris. I am perfectly fine with the fact that he is eating real French onion soup while I am sitting at my desk, working to fund the very expense of his school semester abroad. I do wish deeply, though, that I could have a sip of his espresso, and a bite of his chocolate croissant, and see his smiling eyes. And I wish also that he would post another photo on Instagram. I am wanting another peek at something beyond the Eiffel Tower from Day One escapades and the Arc de Triomphe from Day Two adventuring. 

The other night after work and an oil change, I finished putting away the remaining unpacked remnants of Scrap Central Clubhouse, proof that we are settling in. {Scrap Central Clubhouse blog post here.} Now that one birdie has flown the coop for the fall and our resident foodie is abroad, our home life is settling down somewhat. Our oldest son remains at home, but remember he is my game boy, and most evenings I find him either gone to his part-time job, or laying atop his bed, game controller in hand. It is in his DNA. And I completely understand and embrace him. Sometimes I wonder if we are the only family of four that is comprised solely of introverts. It is a good thing that we do all enjoy being introverts together on occasion.   ;-)

Our oldest did comment on Day Three of being in the apartment, from atop same said bed, to the three of us in the kitchen/dining room, about 12 feet away from him, "I like this new space. We are so close to each other." It has been enjoyable to hunker down together, and be together in our little small space, where different rooms still have the proximity and sameness to them to lend to one a sense of community, of shared time...separate, but joined somehow. We have two weeks and four days remaining with him home, and as I count and, disbelieving the number, recount the days, I am surprised that there are so few left, and my eyes once again do the leaking thing.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks, to say the least. A dear friend described them as tender times. Yes, to be sure. The boys rolled into town, post summer jobs, to a frenzy of last minute packing and moving from our home, and then unpacking into the apartment, and then suspending all of that busyness to just enjoy being together for twelve non-moving days, and then the gradual shifting of together time to the final "get ready to go to Europe" last weekend all together at home phase, the reality that they are both going abroad for the fall, to different cities, for differing semester lengths, setting in heavy on the parental hearts. Yes, tender times to be sure.

My summer was so chaotic that it didn't really seem like summer at all. Full of fun, good times to be sure, but opening a conversation about moving on June 6 can do that to a summer. You know, kill it. I am going to try somehow to eek out a few more flip flop, ice cream, sun soaking days. Thankfully, hopefully, the north Texas September weather will cooperate with me, and let me indulge myself with the quiet joy that can be Indian Summer. Whether or not I was ready though, summer has indeed ended and the checkout lines at Target last night, coupled with the incredibly overflowing mess there of notebook binders and pocket folders, reminded me that school has started, as if my putting my son on a plane to Paris wasn't notice enough. I believe the big yellow school buses will begin their routes Monday in the neighborhoods where I live and work and drive. It is nice to not be entirely certain. I have my own reminders and tells to manage outside the scope of the local ISD's bell ringings.

I am so oriented to a school schedule, though, that even though my big man boys will be schooling across the pond on another continent, and therefore needed no "back to school shopping" this year, other than for luggage and shoes, that this time of year always has me pause and savor the moments and memories that revolved around school calendars and assignments and events. I cannot see August on a calendar and not think "Back to School". I am just programmed systemically to recall the smell of notebook paper, to hear the sound of the chalk on the board, to taste the over buttered perennially served green beans, to see desks in straight rows, like soldiers, ready to battle the incoming masses, to touch the pages of a new textbook and turn them quickly to scope out the future adventures.

I have always been a learner and an avid reader. Oh, mercy, the sound of my mother in the car every summer vacation chanting the same dialog is stamped on my brain, "I don't know how you can sit there with your nose in a book while we are driving through all of this beautiful country." Mother was never a reader until her first shoulder surgery, and so she literally could not fathom the deep adoration of a well-developed plot, much less reading non-stop for every waking daylight car riding hour. Me? I would pore over anything I could get my hands on, and eagerly anticipated the choices I would make on our annual pre-vacation you can only check out ten pilgrimage to the public library. Summer vacation to me as a child was as much about reading as it was about sightseeing and touring.

The boys are readers, too. Each in differing levels and genres, but akin in the ability to follow along cult-like to their respective authors and characters, and reveling in certain release dates and having a list of books to hang on to, even long after it has been read. I don't think they are as voracious of a reader as myself, but I attribute that more to the scarcity of genres that appeal to young men as opposed, say, to a female at any given age. I can read almost any genre, and follow quite  few whereas they are limited to maybe one or two genres....

Enough of that, though, except to say that we are at times a reading house, and quiet afternoons where one can sit and read are available as one desires, and we have always made space in the budget for books, never saying no to a book purchase, and even going out on an errand solely for the purchase of a book. We are house, too, that mourned the passing of Borders bookstore, while yet also secretly embracing the electronic book with our other half of our self, and so knowing we cannot have it both ways, we elect still to buy "real" books as we can, and I should also add that my husband refuses to read an electronic book in any capacity. I would confess that I am really the only e-reader in our house, and it is strictly economics to me, of space and money more than anything. My preference is the big bulky real book, but I read so fast that I cannot contain all of their presence, and I cannot afford them either, given their e-cousin is so much more of a cheaper date.

One May 2009 afternoon found both boys reading downstairs, and just in that instant I had the presence to snap a few photos of them, just more of my every day pursuit to document life. As I look back at these photos now, and see them in their metamorphosing wonder years, sitting on a couch that was surrendered to the garage sale in a house that is no longer ours, I am nostalgic beyond belief, and also simultaneously so very happy that this random reading moment was one remembered. I can recall their tickled annoyance with me for taking the photos, their willingness to be photographed, but their unwillingness to stop reading long enough to be bothered to look up for the camera and smile, and the smirking that ensued on their faces over their clever rejection yet once again of mom and her camera fetish.

Oh, to be sure, that afternoon of reading on the couch, pages were turning. Not only were the boys plowing through their book, but it was almost as if they were growing up before my eyes. Physical pages were turning and in just as real a fashion, virtual pages were turning, too. Boys were giving way to men. School days and recess giving way to semester hours and studies abroad. Oh, for the bliss of another summer afternoon spent reading on the couch. If only I could manage the turning of a page.

Reading on the Couch ~ Boys with Books ~ May 9, 2009

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: October Afternoon
Title Fonts: American Typewriter and Mahogany Script

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh Penny, such sweet thoughts. Summer is for reading, to be sure. I love how you've used that paper with the balloon (they always stump me) and the accents of red that work so well with your photos.