Earlier in the day my mom came over – needing a break from preparations for a party she would host later – and took the kids and I along with her little Rat-dog for a walk along what we HQX residents call the flats, an abandoned industrial field along the bay, across from the old swing bridge and paper mill. Funny because what may look like a wasteland of driftwood, crab grass, blackberry bushes, pissy Canadian geese, and various and sundry detritus (“Oooh, a blasting cap!”), the area in its way speaks to me (and I daresay, my brother and our friends) of freedom. Many nights were spent out on the flats around a bonfire, with or without underage drinking and drugging: summer nights where our only concerns were spending time with one another and heading to an all-night eatery when we got hungry. In fact, one of Ralph and my first dates ended up in a parked car out this way, ahem!, where we wrestled around in the backseat more or less chastely but oh-so-fun.
Today the flats contain nothing more or less for me than a simple walk: a mother, daughter, grandchildren, a cowardly dog. The kids find sticks of driftwood – Nels in particular needs an exact half-dozen, each looking unremarkable to me but containing the power and label of Pogo-stick, walking-stick etc. My mom and I talked; Nels became angry at the lack of attention received. I scored a small victory for myself (and my children) when I did not get irritated with his demands, but continued on in my way and let him have his feelings.
Later in the evening Ralph joined us for my mother’s party; because it was mostly older folks (no really, I spent a large amount of time listening to fishing stories from a man old enough I had to memorize his birth year, then come home and use my calculator to figure his age, P.S. this tiny story-lette is actually more about me being dumb) everyone had left by 10 PM. 10 PM, people! That’s just when I start getting going.
We had a nice time; I haven’t been to a real party, early bedtimes notwithstanding, since Halloween (when we went to two, bam-bam, take that!). And tonight, pretty much every conversation had and every individual there was a delight. In an effort to help my mother with her hosting I made a huge vat of frijoles refritos and a double batch of tamales de puerco. By party’s-end the only food that had been entirely consumed was the latter – beating out the expensive platter of ribs (suck it, ribs!) from the local restaurant (suck it, restaurant!). I am not going to shit thee, those tamales were delicious. Which is kind of cool because as much as I’m an accomplished cook and regularly provide meals from my kitchen, sometimes I do a very mediocre job, and I always hate when that happens to a large group of people, many whom I’ve only just met. In these latter cases I usually give “The Shrug” since, you know, I did what I could.
Early in our evening a few guests began to inquire regarding my blog and writing – then, my life at home with the kids. Query me they did, and rather pointedly indeed. In fact, the abovementioned fishing-story gentleman began to ask me many questions: what did I write about, what were my three most important topics, why did I choose to homeschool, what did I do for my children’s religious education. I must admit, I love talking about all these things, but I wasn’t exactly on my feet and ready to, you know, defend (or even describe) my life, only specifically because I have some unanswered questions right now and, sadly, a lack of mentorship regarding these. Tonight’s discussion and curiosity were completely respectful, and at any moment I could have changed the subject, but I didn’t for whatever reasons.
The next time someone asks me why my kids aren’t in school, I’m going to ask: “Why should they be?”