You’re on the second storey balcony of a 70’s-style walk up and you have curly red hair, tied up in a haphazard, adorable bun. You’re wearing rolled up boyfriend jeans and a cute t-shirt and you’re at least 7 years younger than me.
“I’ll be right down,” you say, shielding the sun out of your eyes, “Wait there!“
I stand paralyzed in the grass in front of your apartment, gape-mouthed. I’d expected that you should have snakes pouring out of your head. I’d expected an absence of perkiness.
I feel the wrinkles on my forehead, my 36-year-old knee caps. I have chalk on my Mom-ish yoga pants, bags under my eyes.
You introduce yourself on the lawn, and rub my son’s head. You call him buddy and chatter about skiing and parades and new running shoes. I nod because you are so very different and I don’t know what I thought, but I expected someone dire, morose, hand-wringy. You are none of those things.
A few months later, you send me a text, and you would prefer it if I didn’t volunteer anymore at my son’s school on his Father’s days because you’d like the lines to be succinct between houses.
I see red.
I wonder who you are to dictate that.
My son talks about the show you took him to on the weekend, the mountains you climbed and so many times my fingers hover over my iphone text box. I want to ask you what kind of books you like and what makes you laugh the hardest and what are the funniest things my son said on Saturday? I want to know things, but I don’t want to know too much, and I have a friend who knows us both and I think about his words:
“You girls are very similar. You’d like each other if you could.”
Sometimes I compose, and always I delete, and many times I bite my lip and just wish for open dialogue. I want to know who you are, and then just as quickly, I don’t.
The text that comes from my oldest son’s father is short and to the point. After almost 4 years, you won’t be around anymore. I don’t know why. I can’t ask why. There’s still a seething wall of animosity and misunderstanding and the only logical words to him are “I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry.”
To you I say nothing, because I don’t have the right.
I think of you in your navy blue pea coat, your buttoned-up emails and indignant precision. I don’t know what happened and I never will but for four years you were a significant part of the other half of the life of my son. I wonder a million different things: do you miss him, do you love him, do you still want to be a part of his life? I hit compose, and then refrain, because all I really know of you is your curly bun, your good intentions.
I want to write: “Do you miss him, do you love him, did he infiltrate your heart too? “
I suspect he did, and I suspect she did too, for him, and I hope they are both OK.