so i was sitting in the car in front of the grocery store while everyone else was inside.
this is a store we don't often go to, mainly because it's a bit out of the way. but we do enjoy shopping there as it's locally owned and operated and they have an excellent meat department for the size. it's been a long time since it was new and there is no pretension about it whatsoever. the kind of store you can pull right up and park in front of. it feels straight out of my childhood to shop there. in fact there was a grocery store near my house called 'new deal' and that's what this store reminds me of. the kind of place with some produce and maybe a shopping cart full of discounted items offered out in front.
all right so i have the radio on and all of a sudden that oasis song comes on. you know the one, 'wonderwall.' you either love it or hate but you know it. and i RARELY hear it, but when i do it always reminds me of one of the most up in the air what the fuck moments in my life. and by moments i mean months and months of moments. and now the only time i hear it something unusual happens. like the sun breaks through the rain, or there's a call from someone from out of the blue. something out of the ordinary.
so i was thinking about this hearing the opening chords and right then three teens, a girl and two boys, walk up to the front of the store. the boys kinda slump against the wall to the sidewalk near the shopping cart of discounted items. the girl catches my eye a minute, gives me that disinterested look girls her age give 'ancient' girls mine, sets down her backpack between them, and leans against it. one boy takes a cigarette out and lights it. he leans across the girl and hands it to the other boy. all the while the girl is staring at the first boy. he turns to her and says something. she blushes and shoves him a little. she LIKES him.
the second boy hands the first boy the cigarette back. he takes a drag. then he nudges the girl and motions to the cart and leans in and says something to her. she looks up at the cart and shakes her head. he says something back. she looks nervous and shakes her head again. he gives her a nudge and a smile. then puts his head on her shoulder. this all takes about a minute.
then i see her get up, back pack slung on her shoulder, and go over to the cart. she kinda looks around and then quickly reaches in and takes something from the cart and puts it in her back pack. i can't see what it is from where i'm sitting.
what *she* doesn't see is that the two boys have gotten up and gone around the corner of the building, and that there has been a store clerk watching her the whole time.
the clerk comes out and confronts her, all the while she knows she's busted and she looks as white as a sheet. then the clerk kinda takes her arm, loosely, and leads her inside. she's got her head down.
all of this in less than 5 minutes.
and the song ends.
and i'm thinking about the girl.
and i'm thinking about how she thought the boy liked her. and, maybe he does. but who knows? who knows anything so young? you just keep going along and hope for the best. the faith of teenagers. it comes so easy yet doesn't make the hard any easier. you do things you think you would ever do. and you just do them. and you wonder what in the fuck you were thinking. and you might even do them again. because he likes you. or, usually, because you like him. and because teenagers sometimes have momentary lapses of reason. and sometimes, more often than not, they last longer than a moment.
and i want to take that girl aside and save her. give her some bit of wisdom that catches fire and stirs her senses. that sticks with her. that keeps her safe and aware. that keeps her away from the boys with the cigarettes and the bad ideas. but i know i can't. and i know it doesn't work like that. you have to go through it. she has to go through it.
and it's so hard. to go through it. it's so hard to say what you feel.
there's so much it's about to burst out but you don't even know where to
begin. or if you can. you're too busy being nervous or unsure or in
love or too cool or not cool enough. that's a lot to bust through. too
much to work with.
and i think about how teenage girls grow into adult girls and how it doesn't get much easier. how those momentary lapses of reason are still around. how you STILL have to go through it. how you never quite know where you stand. because you think you do, but it's only the gift of hindsight that tells you that you didn't know a goddamned thing. you know everything and yet, you don't even know where to begin.
how there are many things you just don't know how to say. for starters. just for starters.
well, until you are 'ancient' like me. because now? now i can say what i mean. and i mean what i say. it's not just a big puzzle i'm dragging everyone in to work out with me anymore. i don't have any problem telling people how i feel and what i need and what i want. i will never again be the girl with the backpack for the rest of my life. and for that i am so relieved.
i don't know how any of us make it out alive, and yet.
it's amazing really.
and then, just when you might have figured it out, the wheel takes a big deep breath and starts to spin again.
this morning the duke (13) turned to me and out of the blue he asked
"mama, how old do i have to be to be allowed to go out on a date?"
and i think about the boy with the cigarette and the girl with the backpack and this girl crying her eyes out in that room somewhere in san francisco during one of those moments and the chubby 10 1/2 pound blue eyed baby the duke used to be. my baby. not my baby anymore. me. no longer that girl.
"i don't know, honey. let's just take it as it comes, okay?"
and in that spirit i bring you this installment of your moment(s) of zen.