There is an adolescent boy who rides my bus in the mornings. He’s maybe 13? Maybe 12? I’ve been watching him grow up the four years I’ve been living in my neighborhood. He boards with his mom. They are beautiful in a sharp, austere way. They sit together and talk about his homework, or the book he’s reading, or whatever.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed that he boards and finds a seat, not looking around to see if there’s a seat for his mom. She accepts and sits or stands near-ish. They don’t interact. I get the wanting to sit separately. God forbid one of his friends should catch him enjoying the ride with his mother … or worse, what if some girl saw him? I get it, but I’m sad for the loss of those heads-tilted-close conversations.
More, I’m sad to see that he is often visibly angry with her and not wanting to have anything to do with her. And I get that, too, I guess. He’s hit that age, right? The age where you are always and always angry with your parents and don’t want anything to do with them (I know this from books, from TV and the movies, you understand … I never actually moved through that phase myself … no, I’m serious).
I get it, but I feel for his mom. She takes it all in stride, never betraying even a hint of sadness or betrayal.
This morning was an angry morning. He got on, his face closed and pinched, walked to the back and sat in the one seat. She found a place to stand midway through the bus and grabbed a pole. A few stops later, a seat opened behind her and she sat …
And before we’d gotten back up to speed, he was in the aisle next to her seat, half-leaning on her, his face calm again, his hand on her shoulder. By the time I left the bus, they were “talking like old times,” no hint of his anger, of his desire to be seen anywhere but with her.
Does it work that way? Is that why she can look so calm when he snubs her, because she knows there will still be those moments when he lets himself remember that he loves her, that he wants to be next to her, wants the physical contact of her next to him? Can mothers tell? Do the know that it’s going to be alright,? Is there something they watch for in this angry phase that clues them in, lets them know the child they love is behind the closed, pinched mask?
no other love is like this love.
not one other
there will be loves
but this first love
Yeah, still feeling a little forced, even with the inspiration of my neighbors. But I’m less troubled (must be the exhasution). Happy that I got to write “love’s thrall” and let myself get away with it! That was actually the first rhyme I thought of. What does that say about my brain, that the first rhyme for “all” that came into my head was “thrall”!
* A Zeno poem: 10 lines, syllables = 8/4/2/1/4/2/1/4/2/1, rhyme pattern = a/b/c/d/e/f/d/g/h/d