Friday, November 19, 2010
One and a half decades later ...
This is about the fifteen year old. I fell pregnant with him when I was 28 and the circumstances weren't brilliant. I had just bought a little house (on my own) and his Dad and I weren't living together. We fought a lot.
I had a roof to put over this baby's head. It seemed that simple.
The nine months passed and I veered between a kind of bovine contentment and terrified panic. My pet budgie died and I thought that if I couldn't even keep a budgie alive my ability to keep a whole human alive was probably questionable.
I listened to the Pixies album, Trompe le Monde, incessantly. I painted The Whole House. I tore up the carpet. I sanded the floors with my Dad. The vacuum bag for collecting dust from the floor sander blew off and my Dad copped a giant cloud of dust in his sweaty face and was jarrah-coloured for the remainder of the day. We stopped at a pharmacy on the way back to his house, a filthy middle aged man covered in dust and his equally dust-covered pregnant daughter. We looked like something out of Deliverance. I wanted bath salts, thinking baths salts might wash away the dust and my abject terror. I was eight months pregnant.
I remember thinking that I had a due date to fall in love, that no matter what else was going on, this parcel of love would arrive sometime near the end of February.
I grew up because of him.
Early this week he approached me with a request to go to a gathering where there was to be no adult supervision. There would be alcohol. His gaze was frank and steady and he maintains this gaze while I fly around the room like a rapidly deflating balloon - exhaling panic.
Without spelling it out he is asking me to trust him. He knows he needs to sit back and endure my furrowed brow, the tightness of my smile - he lets me waver. He knows it will be a death-knock yes or no. He knows that I know who he is, his faith in that is strong.
He is sensible. He is honest and kind. He has humour in his bones.
All week I feel like a fish pulled from the comfort of water. I talk to other parents whose views rainbow from outright prohibition to a weary resignation - a knowing look on the pain of letting go.
I make one last stop, the Mother of a friend of his - her knowledge of him soundly objective. She describes my sensible, kind, funny, honest son to me. It's reassuring that he presents the same self to everyone - that he has nothing to hide.
"This is about faith isn't it?"
"He'll be fine, right?"
I call him and give him the go-ahead. And because I am nowhere near as cool as he is I get all shrill and spell out "This is about me trusting you, okay?".
I want to surround him with a magical, protective forcefield. One that repels dick-heads and danger.
"Ily," he says. I can hear the smile in it.
So right now it's 9am the next day and I imagine he's sleeping, maybe he watched the sun come up with his friends. And the only way I can get through this bit is to write about it.
I remember being fifteen, the years wouldn't go fast enough. It was impossible to imagine a time when I might wish they would slow down.