Traveling the Space-Time Continuum

Most people have had the experience of coming across an item, a song, a food, or something else that, in a split-second, whisks them back to another day. (Who said that time travel is impossible? I beg to differ!)

For example, if you were to serve me pigs in blankets, or even mention them, my mind would go back to my fourth birthday party, during which my mom served them, and one of my guests got sick (i.e. tossed her cookies) all over her part of the table. I can’t help it; it’s where I go.

Every time I hear the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up”, I think about a Halloween party I attended in 1981, because the girl who hosted the party had the new network MTV on, and that music video was my first.

As a parent, the occasional memory jog is a special joy. Childhood is fleeting, and even though you think you understand this when your kids are small, the truth of it all really doesn’t sink in until much later. When you have older kids, being whisked backwards sometimes is a real gift.

At a lacrosse game last night, I watched J and his team go up against one of their rivals. To say that the game was intense would be an understatement. Our team, playing for the third consecutive night, was tiny compared to their opponent, which meant that our boys had to play more often (and of course, get tired quicker). At one point, J made an over-the-shoulder catch (from a ball our goalie lobbed to him, halfway down the field) that was poetry in motion. I marveled at the way these guys were fighting for this game: they were scrappers, underdogs.

In the end, they lost by one point. Their postures showed the loss as they walked away from the coach’s post-game comments, the disappointment oozing out of every part of their bodies. As J walked toward Jim and I, I found myself having another one of those “I can’t believe he’s so old–and big” moments.

Reaching into my pocket, my thoughts were underscored when my fingers hit a tiny ring that is attached to my mess of keys. When I felt it, I smiled. The ring has been hanging there for the last nine or ten years. The evening I got it, Jim and D were gone for the evening, and I took J out to dinner. At that time we rarely took one boy out to eat without the other, and the special treat was not lost on J. After we ate, he asked me if he could get something out of the vending machine, and–though normally I didn’t hand over much vending machine coinage–I obliged. As I paid for our dinner, he took the quarter and ran to the row of machines by the exit.

I walked over to see what he chose, and that’s when he handed me the ring. It was a tiny thing, in pink and silver. It fit his finger perfectly, but he wanted me to have it. “You keep it, Mom! Because we went out to dinner together!”

I told him that it was too small for my fingers, but I would put it on my keyring so that I’d have it with me all the time, and he beamed as we walked out to the car and headed home.

Walking to my car from the stadium last night, I told J that it was a great game, and that even though they lost I thought they played really well. As my exhausted, taller-than-me, deep-voiced teenager walked by my side, I held onto that tiny pink and silver ring tightly, grateful for that moment, when I got to enjoy both the little boy and the young man at the same time.


©2011 Suburban Scrawl