Last week my son flew up from Stanford to visit. What a gift, having a grown child. It’s so strange the way roles begin to reverse, how you have to give up your hold as parent and begin to see your child as a separate individual, with separate paths and goals and beliefs, and how likewise they have to begin to do the same, see you not as a parental figure so much as another flawed and ordinary person with a flawed and ordinary life.
We had a great time hiking and revisiting many of the places from his childhood: Flattop, Wolverine Peak, the beach, Turnagain Arm, Bird Creek Campground, Hatcher Pass. We even stopped for a slushy after a late night beach walk, because that’s what we used to do when he was younger. And of course we also got caught up on the bluffs due to a high tide, where we saw an eagle and my son climbed up so close that it began talking to him in that lovely gurgle that eagles sometimes make.
It was a fine visit, and my youngest sister came up for the last few days and we went out to Hatcher Pass to visit my oldest and dearest friend and his wife, and my son got to shoot guns and act like a guy and then we ate a huge salad from their garden and all was good and perfect with the world.
Except that the weather wasn’t perfect. It rained or was cloudy most days and on most of our hikes we were in the clouds once we reached the peaks. But no matter. There’s a beauty in standing on top of a mountain peak with your son, no one around and no sounds but the wind and your breath and all of that silence, the white film of clouds enclosing you so that it’s as if no one else exists, as if nothing else matters but that moment, that small and fragile piece of time.
It was an active week, with a lot of hiking, a lot of vertical gain, and the time went by much, much too quickly. I didn’t get much writing done but I did get in all of my runs (why is it that I always manage to squeeze in my runs but don’t always squeeze in writing time?).
I always remember memories in reference to what I was reading during those days, weeks, moments, etc.
What I read during my son’s visit is something so peculiar for me that I’m a bit hesitant to admit to it. I normally have more than one book going and one of these was Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg, which I’ve read before and which always causes me to weep, unabashedly, at the ending.
The second was The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R.Carey. I guess they made a movie out of it, which I probably won’t see. But here’s the thing: the book is about zombies and I’ve sworn, over and over, is that I would never, ever read a book about zombies (one has to have standards, right?). And yet I did just that, and I enjoyed it too, which was strange. Granted, it wasn’t a piece of literature but it did keep my interest. I could barely put it down at times.
So there you have it. My son came to visit and then my sister came to visit, and we hiked and hiked and hiked, and what I read during that time were books about a woman dying of cancer, and zombies.
Life is unusual and wonderful, isn’t it?