It’s about that time. The heat of August has come like it always does and with it damp mornings that will always remind me of getting ready for a new school year to begin. As soon as the MoH is off to work, I putz around the pots and planters on my patio, snipping away the spent blossoms and sweeping the leaves that have dropped over the past day. The orb weavers have been out for a week now and trying to jockey for best web position for the season, their little orange bodies not quite adjusted to those of us who forget it’s their time in the garden now, and we crash into their hard work a couple of times before they teach us to remember, and look.
I enjoy my time outside in the mornings before traffic starts on the other side of the wall. I always think I might have a seat in the early quiet, do a bit of reading with my cup of coffee and think of being organized about my day instead of just letting it happen, but I rarely do. It’s easier to use the time to get my thinking done as I fiddle with the plants that are finally making themselves at home. Our patio has been a work in progress for so long, I have to look at some of our old photos to remind myself the painstakingly slow work we’ve done has been worth it. The only thing remaining for us to do is to build a wooden fence on each side to provide us and our neighbors a bit of privacy — if that can actually be had when you live as closely to one another as we do.
The RT quietly joined me on the patio one morning, doing what he has for so many years now — leaning into me for a good morning hug. He’s quite tall now so I am usually folded into lanky arms, my head butting gently against his shoulder. He stands with me for a while surveying, then shuffling from one plant to the next, asking about each, remembering others we’ve had planted and have now removed. I ask him about his day and whether he’s made plans to see a friend or two. Lizzie likes it when people are outside on the patio, so hearing our talk, joined us from her favorite hiding spot in the bushes out front to brush against our ankles, begging for attention. One of us usually picks her up and she tolerates us only briefly before straining to be put down again. She will be sad to realize that soon, the RT will be returning to school after his long summer at home, and the MoH and I will be left to deal with her resulting bad behavior. We thought it was coincidental at first, but now realize that her furniture scratching, crankiness toward old Precious, and messy bathroom habits can be blamed on the RT’s comings and goings.
This year instead of getting ready to return to a dorm — or residence hall, as he patiently has explained to us many times — he will be setting up his first apartment. Or better said, we will be helping him set up the apartment. The RT and a friend met his first semester at school will be sharing a studio we’ve leased for the both of them. It’s a studio you’d expect to find in downtown San Francisco, old, quaint, and just fine for two young men busy with school. The building manager lives right next door, so we’re quite happy about that. And it’s fairly close to the area he’s been in for the past two years. It should work out just fine.
The summer has been filled with discussions of remembering easy meals to prepare and constant reminders to actually eat. The RT is painfully thin and the MoH tells him each time he leaves for school, “Remember, you only have to gain two pounds before you return. That’s not many.” And the MoH does make a game of it, prodding the RT to get on the scale to hold him accountable. Our talks of meals, protein, veggies, and good eating must have sunk in, because his most recent step on the scale showed he’d gained seven pounds. His next goal is to gain 10 before returning for Christmas break.
Oh, to have to gain weight instead of lose it.
We’ve been to IKEA to get inexpensive cooking utensils and a couple of pans. Dishes and dishtowels, a new desk and chair, bunk beds we’ll pick up on our way there — we’ve had to rent an SUV just to get his things up there this time. I’m thankful it wasn’t a UHaul filled with things he can’t live without. No, we’re lucky in that respect because most of his creature comforts stay here welcoming him each time he returns.
When he arrived home mid-May, we had grand hopes that he’d get a job — any job. He knew that was the plan, and as much as he applied, figured out the craziness of some on-line applications, and didn’t quite figure out the politics of “knowing someone” and having that not quite pay off, no job was to be had. He’s pretty low maintenance as far as spending money goes, so it’s the much needed experience of being a part of the world of work that matters most to us — of putting on decent clothes, getting himself out there, figuring out how to deal with customers and bosses, fluctuating schedules, and never seeing much of what you earn because of taxes. You know — all the best parts of being employed.
But so many people are out of work — so many young people newly graduated from college with bright and shiny degrees who aren’t sure which direction to go in now, work isn’t exactly easy to come by. Over qualified people are taking many of the jobs younger people used to look forward to snapping up for a summer. And then when the prospective employer finds out you’re leaving in six weeks to return to school, well. That’s another lesson in and of itself and we found ourselves telling him not to be honest about it. Nice.
So with an apartment leased for a year, I’ve already told him to expect that he’ll need to get a job and/or an internship in San Francisco next summer and to plan for it. Plan for it before the school year is over — as in start now. Plan that he’ll not come home next summer because we’re not going to pay for an empty place up there while he’s staying down here. He knows, but I can see the look in his eye. Or maybe I’m imagining that look and remembering. My mother did the same thing to me when I was his age — or something similar. She’d asked for a small amount of rent and I was offended so promptly made plans to move out with a girlfriend I’d met at work. My logic was completely off base because giving my mother money to help with our family was far less than what I’d pay for my portion of rent. But it was time for me to leave, and so I did. I lived only a few miles from home, but rarely saw my family I was so busy with work and school. San Francisco is quite a long way from home when one is not sure where life will lead and most everything and everybody he’s known is far away.
A mother’s worries — all of it. I never stop.
It’s good to know the RT is well-adjusted and doesn’t seem to worry. Ah, to be 20 again.
I guess that means I can’t refer to him as the Resident Teen any longer, can I?
I’ll have to think about that one.