Sunday, November 05, 2006
The Dance of Innocence
There are places and times, songs and people that can make you transcend the boundaries of your present and can send you catapulting back, pulling back time, as you fall, it erases all wrinkles and jaded behavior and leaves you just as you were, in the blink of an eye or with the mention of your name, no spa, no drug, no fitness regime could be so powerful to turn back the clock of life.
It was a cold, damp, autumn day, the air permeates through my layers of clothing and causes me to shiver as I prepare to leave the grocery store.The black clouds swirling overhead are beginning to threaten rain which has caused my mood to become more glum than it already is. I am laddened with 50 pounds of groceries distributed through ten plastic bags that are dangling from my wrists. And the wind begins to pick up just as I leave the confines of the store. I feel old. I feel haggard. I feel put out by the evils of northern living. I am not having a good day.
I think, I hear my name being called, but the infuriating sky and my plight with life really has my entire attention.
I ignore the call of my name and adjust my focus to my daughter who is walking about as if it were a balmy summer day. Her head is ahead of the clouds and she is dreaming of unicorns and sunny beaches, when I have to raise my voice to bring her back to the land of cold and miserable.
My dreamer is walking along side me in a t-shirt, with her coat in hand and not a care in the world. And I am a bit envious of her as we plod on.
I have now resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be soaked even if I rush my dreamer along, I continue to curse Caelus of the sky, when I hear my name again.
And this time I look for the person to accompany the voice, for it certainly is not Caelus, as he is mocking my misfortune.
I know the voice and it takes me back in time. I momentarily am not the haggard, baglady with blue hands, with my dreamy side kick daughter. I am instead a fifteen year old school girl. All, in the sound of a voice, that has said my name about a million times...
I turn and there he is. My sweet, dear, friend from high school. There he is, my, dear, sweet, Andy.
I do not remember how I met Andy but I know it was grade ten. He was in grade twelve. I knew him in an age of innocence. And that is how we have remained suspended through the decades.
Andy was one of those types of boys who would have the girls in school giggle a wee bit louder than normal in hopes of capturing his attention. And the boys would hang close in hopes of feeding off his positive energy. To accompany the energy came his boyish, good looks. He was handsome. He had striking blue eyes, that he would insist on talking with, and a smile which could melt most the most hardened.The kind of boy who had a certain dress sense of ripped sweaters layered about with army fatigues that was devastatingly handsome. It was his look. Many had tried in high school to replicate this look but came off just replicas.
He had kind eyes and a voice that kind of squeaked when he talked. There was an uncertainty to the real range of his voice but through his voice there was a charming innocence of life. A soft spoken voice that never changed as we aged and somehow it was always reassuring in its uproarious, delivery.
He was always a person who valued his friends. He would do anything for you. He would always stop, no matter how much in a rush he was in, he would always help with whatever the task, no matter how menial. He was a true friend who put value in moments spent together. I can still shutter and some of the favours he did for me without question through out the years of friendship.
Andy would always walk me home from school if it was getting late. He would always have his bicycle balancing both of our heavy knapsacks on his handle bars as we walked and talked about our day. He would always ask me what I was reading and make a mental note of it for the future. And inevitably he would read whatever I recommended. He and I would race on our bikes to various events. He would cycle with me to parties. And many a time we would lock our bikes together knowing with certainty that we would leave the party together as many a time we preferred our company, to that of a love interest at the time. He would always keep a watchful eye out for me as a big brother would, for that truly was the nature of our friendship. We were very dear friends.We were never attracted to each other and I suppose this is how the innocence of our friendship has been rooted in a time of promise.
And as he called my name again, I went through a magnificent time warp. I let go of my anger for Zeus and his dastardly bunch of weather goons, and as I heard my name again the years vanished and I was fifteen again albeit with my nine year old daughter.
Andy ran across the street to meet me with his bike. The years has been good to him. He threw his left arm around me and balanced his bike on his right side as he was prone and gave me a hug while my arms remained at my sides as I still had my groceries. I could see beyond Andy's shoulder as my daughter stood transfixed by this man who was hugging her mom. A person beyond the grasp of fifteen year old innocence.
He pulled away and looked at Scooter. 'Hi I'm Andy.I met you, a long time ago Scooter but you probably do not remember. I went to school with your momma.'
And with that statement wavering in the air, he put out his hand to shake my daughter's.
And he looked up at the sky and said 'We are in for a big storm.' Discounting the clouds, he systematically took my bags from my hands and placed them on the handle bars of his bike and motioned for us to continue on our path.
He walked alongside my daughter and I. And he talked to my daughter, he showed a vested interest in her thoughts. And he shared our past with her. He talked about the silliness we got into. He talked about me helping him with various tests in high school and university, he talked about how we would row at 5am and how unhappy I would be at that time of the morning. He laughed. He would talk about what I wore to the formal and how we danced all night. He talked about the protest marches we went on, he talked about sitting on my front porch with my family in the summers and having lemonade. He talked about how stubborn I was and nudged my daughter and guaranteed her that I was still very stubborn.He told her how I would make him walk for miles and miles... but he claimed he never minded. He told my daughter how I made him better himself and how I really fostered his love of reading. He told my daughter how lucky she is to have me as a Momma. Andy told my daughter that I would open the world for her.As that is what I did for him in being his friend.
When we reached my home he helped bring the groceries in and had to fly as he was late for a meeting. He guaranteed me that he was only two minutes away from my house by bike.
He gave us such a gift that day.
He chose to say such wonderful, beautiful ,things, that made me cry inside. He brought me back on a quick trip of nostalgia.
And he gave my daughter a gift.
A gift because my daughter has the opportunity to see me as a young, girl, before my work, before her dad, before the house, before her, a life outside the box of her existance.
And as he got on his bike and turned and waved good bye, we watched him disappear down the road and felt the first drops of rain. My daughter smiled as she watched him, as he became a mere fleck in the horizon with the black clouds and leaves swirling about.
She then turned to me and gave a me a big hug, and then a big tug and with urgency she looked at me, and truly examined my face.
'Momma, did you really teach Andy all those things?'
'Ahh, I don't know 'bout that Hon. He always says such nice things'
'Momma, he told me that you are one of his heroes.'
'Momma, you are my hero, too.'
And as the rain started to trickle down and my daughter hugged me again on the front porch, it made me glad of the moment I was having with my daughter brought on by the wind, the rain, and a chance meeting of my past, catching up with my present.
Ain't Life Grand????