Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicago, New York, Detroit and It’s all On the Same Street: Traveling Kids – Part VI

Getting the text from Anna stating that she was going to a concert in Philly was a bit of a relief. What I didn’t know but soon found out, is that she was heading for Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor. I was grateful that she contacted me more than when she was in New Orleans, but then again…knowing that she was back in the traveling mode summoned the dreaded fear monster.

Once again, I was taking melatonin to sleep at night, relying on prayers and trying to avoid making those impossible deals with God. My father was a patient man, so I knew that he would understand if I asked him to watch over her for a few more months.

I found myself watching the weather channel every night to make sure that there were no tornadoes or other natural disasters making their way to her. As if I could do anything should one occur?

First there was the heat wave. Of course when we exchanged a few texts, I mentioned it, again, as if she didn’t know. When we talked on the phone she told me how annoying the heat was and assured me that she was drinking plenty of water.

Then came the rain. Flooding. Okay. The media was all over the flooding thing. I was pushing away images of my daughter sleeping who knows where while water raged through the streets, again, as if she didn’t know. She called me and said that the rain was wonderful and that she was enjoying the relief from the blistering heat. Flooding? Not where she had claimed her stakes.

When she was headed for Detroit was about the time that I started biting my nails, something I never did before except for at the last minute when playing the guitar back in the day. I was watching a documentary about Detroit, and how there are zoning boards and other committees poised to plow down all of the vacant buildings left from the collapsed auto industry that had fallen prey to gangs. That was when she happened to text me and tell me that she was on her way there.

Then I remembered that her destination was Ann Arbor Michigan for Punk Week. She told me this several months prior; it all came back to me. Ann Arbor seemed like a nice place.

I was thankful for the calls and texts. They were random, but anything was better than the previous winter of unknowing in New Orleans. I spent a great deal of time sitting on the porch steps by myself looking at the night sky and listening to the sounds of the woods, remembering when she was there with me, agreeing with me that the mysterious rustling in the trees was a good thing.

I was listening to NPR when the news came that a state of emergency had been declared in southwest Michigan's Kalamazoo County as more than 800,000 gallons of oil released into a creek began making its way downstream in the Kalamazoo River. People were being instructed to drink bottled water and avoid bathing or using the water source. Okay, out with the almanac. Where is Ann Arbor in relation to this?

My son, the violinist, was here for the month of August. I had to be mindful of the possibility of relying on him too much emotionally. I detest neediness and know how it can slip into your psyche almost undetected.

His presence was a positive head change for me. We spoke of Anna from time to time, but I didn’t want to be that desperate mother who was unable to live in the moment, my moment, unclouded with fear and doubt about a situation that was clearly beyond my control. I had an opportunity to enjoy my son, who I had mainly kept in touch with via the telephone while he was going to conservatory and performing in Boston. He visited now and then and I went to some of his performances when I was not on the Gulf of Mexico. Since returning to New Hampshire in a more permanent sense, visits were much easier.

I relished the fact that music filled the house, as it did for so many years raising a highly productive musical family in a home school setting, which means just about every waking hour there were sounds of the violin, cello, piano, guitar, and an assortment of brass. I missed the soundtrack of my life. My son was preparing for auditions and such. Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto saved me.

Then, Anna happened to hit a low point while out there somewhere and she called my oldest son. She was quite upset, and of course everyone wanted to protect me, so about a week after the dust settled, I got a text from my daughter telling me that her brother is buying her a bus ticket home. Not knowing that the ticket was a bail out rather than a generous offer out of the blue, I was elated on a few different levels. Then I got the call from my son saying that she called him in the wee hours of the morning in distress mode. She also texted my violinist son, who had kept the information confidential, feeling that it was not his place to tell me.

My offspring have a strong bond, and will keep their word to each other. They will also spare me at times, although the truth is always there and comes out when appropriate. It’s all about trust and honor, and we live by that code as a tightly knit unit. At that point for me, the situation went from high to low.

I planned what I would and would not say to Anna, thinking about holding her captive, even though I knew that it was impossible. I thought that somehow I could talk her into staying home where she would be safe and loved. My sons both wanted me to do something, anything.

I couldn’t wait to see her. It took about 24 hours for her to get to Boston on the bus. I drove down in the pouring rain to get her from my older son’s apartment.

She looked okay. She had a deep tan and had lost a little weight. Her eyes were sad. I sat on the couch with my arm around her, her head resting on my chest. We visited my son and his fiancé for a bit and then headed home.

Because she was so happy to see me, I didn’t want to jump into the hard line of questioning right away. I wanted her to feel her joy at being home. We had plenty of time to talk. I had been through it before; we needed to find a comfort zone for our time to be meaningful.

She chatted all the way home. The sadness in her eyes transformed into an ember, soon to be a spark. Somehow I had to let my son who waited for us at home to know that she was truly happy at that moment, and that a tough love stance would be a disastrous mistake and backfire.

She hauled her huge backpack into the house and we entered. She hugged her brother and started talking and filling the room with her infectious laugh. When she went to the bunkroom to drop off her stuff, I quickly pulled my son aside to tell him that we needed to enjoy ourselves and avoid the deep stuff, he quickly agreed, knowing that there was no room in the moment for heavy lecturing and grilling.

This happiness went on for days. We went swimming, hung out by the bonfire, listened to good music and reminisced about days gone by.

The day came when my daughter confided in me. She faced some life altering experiences and shared them with me. I am truly blessed that she opens up to me, and that she knows that I will not judge or harm her in any way on any level. I will only give her love, guidance and maternal wisdom. It is up to her to sift through it and do as she will.

I re-emphasized the need to know of her whereabouts and my hopes for her to consider a different path. I also reinforced my love and all attempts of acceptance. I admire her courage, but believe that she does not have to live in a survival mode, which is how it appears to me.

We have an understanding that I acknowledge that it is her choice to travel around the country with her only belongings stuffed in the backpack. She understands that I need to hear from her with some regularity concerning her well-being and that she will be wise in her choices and carry on with integrity and honor. We both understand that we are not on the same page, but our love is indestructible.

I drove her back to Vermont, where she attended the “Human Powered Carnival” and reunited with her friends.
(To be continued)

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