August 18, 2000
Jump-Starting My Heart


I was sitting in sleepy Castle darkness this morning, at 5:45 a.m. ... blinking blearily at the computer screen, picking the crunchy things out of the corners of my eyes, waiting for those first four ounces of caffeine to *upload* themselves to my nervous system ... when a little disembodied voice suddenly spoke up from the darkness behind me.

"Hello!" said the little disembodied voice.

Jesus H. Christ on a Laerdal Heartstart 911 Defibrillator.

There is nothing like a cheerful little disembodied voice suddenly speaking up out of total darkness at you, at 5:45 a.m. in the morning, to jump-start your heart, especially when what you're accustomed to "listening" to, in the mornings, is complete and absolute silence. No radio. No stereo. No conversation. No coffee grinder: I grind the beans the night before. I don't even turn on the television until *The Matt Lauer Show, Starring Matt Lauer and Some Other People, But Mostly Starring Matt Lauer* begins at 7 a.m.  And even then I often watch it with the sound turned off, unless Matt Lauer is doing something interesting. (Like breathing.)

Unlike Daughter #1, who managed to sleep right through our morning getting-dressed-and-ready-for-work routine (and well beyond) every day of her visit, Son #Only was not only AWAKE at this ungodly hour, he was downright perky. For the next hour and a half, he kept me company while I dried my hair and drank my coffee and applied my Maybelline. It was nice. When David and I left for work, I kissed him on the top of his head and told him I would be home early.

"We can go for a walk around the cove this afternoon," I said. "And tonight we'll go to The Acapulco for dinner."

He smiled and nodded and said that sounded great, and I left for work feeling all warm and fuzzy and maternal, and I've pretty much had a smile on my face ever since.

Already this visit is going a bazillion times better than his last visit.

Don't get me wrong. His last visit, back in November, was perfectly lovely. It was his first time on an airplane ... his first time here in the Bay Area ... his first real *quality time* with Mom and her boyfriend. And that's precisely WHY it was so awkward: it was his first time on an airplane ... his first time here in the Bay Area ... his first real *quality time* with Mom and her boyfriend. Plus he was stuck here in this dinky little apartment, where everybody can hear you pee.

No wonder he was more subdued than normal.

Last night it was like watching a different kid get off that airplane. The first thing I noticed? His face has gotten narrower. Or slimmer. Or less-round. Or something. Maybe he's just losing his baby fat. And he's definitely taller than he was, just a couple of months ago ... leaner, stronger-looking, visibly more comfortable in his fourteen-year-old skin. We sat on the sofa before bedtime last night and played the "whose hands are bigger?" game. He won by a landslide. His feet are bigger than mine, too.

(When a parent isn't there to notice stuff on a day-to-day basis, any changes -- however slight they may seem to a more casual observer -- are surprising. And endlessly fascinating.)

But beyond the inevitable physical changes, he just seems calmer and more relaxed and more emotionally-engaged, this time around. He hugged his mom (or allowed himself to be hugged) without visible embarrassment. He gave David a firm and hearty handshake. He cracked jokes all the way from Gate Six downstairs to Baggage Claim. In the Subaru he listed all of the CDs he brought along, for our *listening pleasure* ... Korn, Limp Bizkit, Outcast, Krazie Bone, Mystikal, Ice Cube.

It's going to be a lovely -- if noisy -- weekend.

Tomorrow is school-clothes-shopping day. He purposely arrived with a mostly-empty suitcase, so we can fill it up with Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger and all of his other expensive little designer friends. (We're gonna be eating canned chicken around The Castle for the next two months, I just know it. But what the heck? A guy only starts high school once.)

Sunday remains deliciously uncertain. Originally I was trying to interest everybody in taking the ferry to Alcatraz ... someplace *I* have never been ... but that idea went over like the proverbial lead balloon. ("What would we do, once we got there?" seemed to be the question of the hour. "Groovy photo opps?" I said, hopefully. But there were no takers.)  Now it's looking like we might simply indulge in that perennial Tot Favorite, San Francisco's Chinatown, where we will doubtless load up on poorly-made, ridiculously-expensive Alcatraz SOUVENIRS. BBQ apron, anyone? Sigh.

At any rate ... I'm going to drop off the radar now for the next couple of days.

(Yeah, I know. I always SAY I'm "dropping off the radar for a couple of days" ... and the next thing you know I'm right back here in your face on Sunday morning, yammering on and on about ants and zoo poop and broken toasters. But this time I mean it. I've got some serious Goofing Around With My Kid to take care of.)

I'll be back on Monday with pictures. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

P.S. Special thanks to my pal Michelle, who apparently took me seriously yesterday, forcryingoutloud. I've already spent my gift certificate on -- appropriately enough -- a book about journaling! Thank you!

son #only's previous visit

throw a rock