Tuesday, July 03, 2012

One of those moments

The ears appeared at about 5pm.
It is unfortunate I haven't had much time to write.  Summer is the busy period at work, and I have been kept hopping.  But the key to writing is just to do it, so I laid fingers to keyboard tonight.  If this one actually gets published, you won't notice the difference.  I, however, will wonder at what made this entry different. 

Before this one sees life, I have 26 partially started entries between my last and this one.  Some of them consist of only a title or intro sentence, trying to spark myself to wit.  Others lie in a completed state, monuments to a pile of time and purpose.  Sometimes I pull them because too much time has elapsed, but as often as not I hold off on publishing them because I've had a chance to think about whatever I say.  With that pondering, I often change opinions, or realize that I've been harsh to someone who didn't deserve it.  I held off on one of the most recent because in my rush to defend someone and speak down to their accuser, I had become patronizing and head-patting.  Deplorable.

So there's this entry.

It's about some hugs.

Specifically, it's about two hugs.  [It was about three, but the third will have to wait for another entry.  I couldn't write a follow-up that continued the momentum.] 

I have a soft spot in my heart for hugs.  Kisses are fun, sure.  It's hard to get a passionate and eagerly romantic *hug*, after all.  But there are an entire swath of emotions that really only get conveyed through hugs.  This isn't going to turn into a comical or smarmy list of enumerated hugs.  It's just a reflection on three two moments. 

The first and second hugs were from a boy of 13 and a young lady of six.  They are the children of my good friend.  His family lives more than six hours from here.  That proves to be short enough of a distance to get to in a day, but long enough of a distance to never have the opportunity to do so.  There was a time when we both lived in the same city, such that seeing them required only a ten-minute drive.  A trip I made often, multiple times a week (or day, depending).

But his family and I have each moved a couple of times since then.  And now I'm way over here, and they're way over there.  I had not seen them for over eighteen months, which isn't very long in Dr. Andy years -- I'm working on cleaning a spot off my counter that's been with me longer -- but it's a tremendous time interval in the lives of people who are actively growing and learning how to communicate. 

So when I went there a couple of weekends ago, it was very purposeful.  "I have been too long away, and that injustice must end."  Like all prodigal people, I was nervous as I pulled up.  Would the daughter remember me?  Four and a half to six is a long time!  Would the son remember me?  I used to push him on swings, but now he's playing the trombone and probably driving or voting Republican!

It was tense for a good long while... almost five whole minutes!  The daughter had been carefully instructed that "Andy is not a jungle gym," so she sat at my elbow, sitting on her heels.  Staring at me, as though trying to determine whether or not I *wanted* to be a jungle gym.  And of course I did.

All afternoon long, I was torn between visiting the playground of one or the other.  She asked, "Come into my room!" and showed me her gymnastics show on the narrow strip of carpet between her bed and the mountain of toys and playhouses in her room.  He asked me to come to his room, where he talked about the hermit crabs they brought back from Florida, and how they switch shells and eat and move.  I was in heaven, no matter how hard they tugged me in two separate "look at me" directions.

As the end of the day approached, after I'd given some trombone tips, the son gave me a one-armed semi hug.  I missed him terribly, but I also know that at some point, you have to be cooler than giving hugs.  He continued to give me facts and remembrances to the door, though.

And the daughter got quiet and somber when I was standing to leave.  She stood on the arm of the squishy couch and put her head on my shoulder, just the right height as I stood next to it.  And she just stood there, a far cry from all her movement and repeated attempts to climb to the pinnacle of me all day.   She just stood there, head on my shoulder, listening to my voice rumble through my chest as I spoke comforts in her ear and patted her gently on the back.

I would have abandoned all of my life to stay in that moment forever. 

I remember the moment I fell in love with the son.  It was early in his life, when I'd actually managed to tire him out close to his bedtime.  Putting him in bed, he was limp in the way only sleeping cats and children can be.  I saw him in the bed and I brushed the hair out of his closed eyes.  And that was it.  I doubt I could love him more if he were my own son. 

But I had no such moments with the daughter.  She was born when I lived elsewhere and raised when I lived elsewhere.  This past visit may only be the tenth time I've ever seen her. 

But I love her just as much.  Full to bursting.  I love that she interrupts.  I love that she gets song lyrics wrong.  And I love that -- at least for now -- she's content to sit on my shoulders and let me bounce her around. 

It won't always be that way.  At some point, she'll have other interests.  Those moments will fade into sepia memories; ones that I'll cherish and she'll forget about.  And that's fine.

Because for the space of that one moment, all that mattered in the entire world for both of us was being in a hug and staying there for as long as we could. 

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