Monday, January 3, 2011

The Christmas tree is down and my great-great grandfather's rocking chair has been put back in place.  When the old gentleman was alive the chair was upholstered in red leather with magnificent bronze brads.  My parents had it redone in Sonny's favorite color, turquoise, with water-repellent, grandchild-proof fabric. Boring and at some point I will haul the chair back to the shop and return the upholstery to its amazing splendor. The chair sat in an enclosed back porch, an all-seasons room, in my childhood home. I remember curling up in its comfort, the lights off watching the winter stars move above the cottonwood branches. I would wait for a pink and white  '59  Chevy to come prowling around the corner, my first husband's car.
Sonny celebrated New Year's Eve with an old friend, wife of a childhood chum long dead. There was dinner at 4:30 in an Italian place and the film, Dr. Zhivago to be viewed afterwards. So goes the geriatric set, wiser than me. Gone are my days of after-midnight partying in the swinging night clubs across the river but I discovered another activity that is comparable to that same chaos.
 And that would be celebrating the holiday with grandchildren at Happy Joe's Pizza Parlor.  We have come early to ensure a table for the celebratory event that will happen at 8:00, the ball-dropping  hour for the junior set. Only pizza crusts remain and we are drinking the last dregs of warm beer from the pitcher. Waiting for the hands to crawl around the clock's face.  There is just so much an able-bodied adult can do in a  pizza place and conversation is a wasted effort with so many excited children fortified with caffeine and ice cream.  The staff has fastened  200+ balloons to the ceiling and when the clock strikes eight they release them to the delight of the fork-stabbing, foot stomping children.  We are in a war zone with artillery exploding all around us.

And Jason has left.  He will be gone for a year backpacking in southeast Asia and Central America. He spends the better part of the day preparing his backpack. Compression bags full of clothes and when the strings are drawn tight the bags squash down to half their original size. A water purifier the size of a fat pen - stick it in, stir it around.  A smaller backpack, the size of a cereal box, for day trips.  He will carry cash and  ID in a leg pack strapped below the knee.  There will be a few bucks in his pocket for easy accessibility and if he gets pick pocketed, not a great loss.  Strange, planning a trip knowing the likelihood of theft is quite eminent and  then planning around that. A funny little packet with two pink plastic pigs.  Pass the Pigs is the name of the game and  it has two tiny pencils and note pads. "You predict how the pigs are going to land when thrown and there is a gambling element to it."  College graduates play this game, I ask. Lots of down time on these trips, he says, and you cannot aways be a tourist. When the backpack is full it is 3/4 the height of my son, wider than he and weighs a mere 24 pounds. The strapping gear resembles what I've seen on parachutes and Jason straps the backpack close to his body.  Don't want the weight shifting when climbing mountains.
I see the tears welling in Sonny's eyes as Jason bids good-by. A year is a long time for an 86-year-old man who lost a beloved wife in a painfully slow manner. I also feel a tug and a pinch in my innards. 
The vegan has left the building and  Sonny and I will dine on beef pasty tonight and I will not spend two hours chopping green things for salad. Okay, maybe some frozen corn.
See you soon, my son, my boy. Whatever you do, do it well.

1 comment:

MrDaveyGie said...

Jason is certainly a unique spectacular fellow. Be safe Jason, and check into FaceBook if you can.
That chair has memories.
Your soon to be famous brother.