It’s the first summer in 19 years I haven’t lived with E (and the accompanying punk/metal/electronic soundtrack that permeates our living space when he’s here).
There’s an interesting symmetry to this summer. A feeling that things have come full circle somehow. I was not much older than E. is now when he was born. His independence reminds me of when I was 19. And his absence leaves me wondering what adults do with themselves when there is no one to take care of, nobody’s compositions to listen to or blot out with earplugs.
Before E. was born I wasn’t really an adult. Hadn’t established the routines of grown up life. When I was his age I’d been living in Europe for a while, part of the time with my best friend J. and a few other expats and runaways, in a room on the abandoned top floor of a hotel in Athens, Greece. I read a lot. And drank a lot. Worked and wrote. It was insanely hot and the city was loud and dirty, and my friends and I made lots of plans that never panned out. We’d invariably end up at a bar called Drinks Time in the late afternoons putting down round after round, watching people, and nerdily talking about literature.
It wasn’t the best possible preparation for motherhood. But it wasn’t the worst either. I’d been part of a community of weirdos and artists for a long time and when E. was born I was curious to find out what kind of artist he’d grow up to be. It never crossed my mind he’d do something that wasn’t creative and I felt he was born into a tradition or a trade, not a “family.”
So this summer while he rehearses and composes, and likely gets drunk and nerdily talks about music theory, I have been delivered back to the source, back to the memory of heat and freedom and the first times I said the words “I’m going to write a novel.”
I miss E. And I can’t wait to hear his new work. But it helps that J. lives in New York. That his air conditioning is broken and that yesterday we walked around sweating then went back to my cool apartment and played scrabble and danced to Al Green. And it felt like days when we sat out on the roof of the hotel and mapped out a future that only someone who’d yet to fail could imagine.
Today I swam a mile and then hung submerged in the water at the end of the lap lane. So happy to be here. So happy it’s summer. So happy I get to write another book.