The great mystery

There's a reunion post coming soon, once I get the photos out of the camera. For those not keeping score, I hit the 20th high school reunion over the weekend. Still processing, like the camera.

But the rest of the weekend was spent largely running around with some of my bestest friends (who just so happen to be ones I met in HS back in the lazy, crazy 1980s) and their clans. As I always do, I come away with newfound respect for any degree of sanity that exists when you run a household with children in it, much less multiple children. I have zero, so going from that to three and back down to two over a 48 hour period is like diving into very cold water and surfacing only in small increments. Refreshing and exhausting at the same time.

Alexis and Jerry have three; Rebecca and Paul have two. We spent a perfect fall Sunday day at the fairgrounds tromping through the Sugarloaf Craft Festival — a thing I did with my mom from the time I could practically walk, it seems, roaming through the same barn buildings year after year — and then came home to shoot foam rockets into the air in a nearby field, have pizza and collapse. I went to bed that night with the memory of those two adorable fragile faces bouncing in and out at me, calling for attention, like the afterimage of the sun seared on the inside of my eyelids.

Becca's oldest, who's nearly 5, has parents who love music, so he loves music. Largely, head-banging Ozzy Osbourne type music but also lots of They Might Be Giants and even Simon and Garfunkel; there was something transcendent about sitting squashed between two child safety seats in their car on the way to the fairgrounds with "The Boxer" playing and everyone going "li-lah-li" and clapping on the downbeat of the drums, including the kids. ("Feelin' Groovy," by the way, is the "do-do-do-do" song.)

The oldest also loves Scooby-Doo. He engaged me fairly constantly with an interrogation about how much Scooby Doo I had seen, and did I know about the one with the Loch Ness Monster or the Vampire Aliens. Sitting down later to watch one of them with the almost-five-year-old I was thrilled on some level that something I'd watched in my childhood was passing on to another generation, amazed that the stoner, bell-bottomed Shaggy was also coming along for the ride, and amused to discover that no matter what the mystery was, in what part of the world and with what legend attached to it, it all ultimately came down to being a guy in a costume. Or multiple guys in a costume. Or sometimes a woman in a costume. Always. Forever and ever amen.

Saturday night I spent with Alexis and Jerry and to some extent their trio; there were light sabers pointed at me and homemade books and Halloween costumes to show off, Spider-Man/Goblin video games to play, DVD extras of "Rent" to watch (their oldest is obsessed with the stage show and Adam Rapp). Then the grown-ups got dressed up all purty and went to the reunion.

What struck me about both visits was how pretty much every kid — except the oldest and the very youngest — wanted, within 30 seconds of my arrival, to show me their rooms. Here's my room, here's my stuff, here's the stuff I've made that's in my room on the walls, here's my desk, look at where I keep my toys, do you know what planet that is on the wall? It's Saturn, of course, and look there are stars on the ceiling that glow in the dark.

I guess that's something we never get over needing to do, even if it's just on a metaphorical level. We're always taking tentative steps to invite people into our personal spaces. Doing so, we're saying: If you can handle this, you can probably handle me. Look, this is my mess. This is what I made, this is who I am. If you stay and you like it, then I think I can love you. If you don't like it or can't deal, then you probably should get out because we're not going to come to an understanding. Get out, while you still can. Before you decide I'm just somebody in a costume, and there is no mystery worth exploring.


  1. MarsViolet on 10/16/07 at 1:45 am

    [this is good]

     If you can handle this, you can probably handle me.

    Life as Show n Tell… yea, I agree.  As adults we just become more skilled at revealing our personal spaces, adopting a cool exterior.. or a Vox blog.  :)