Tonight Ethan and I ran a little excursion after dinner. Just the two of us. When we walked out the door it was not quite seven o'clock. These days that means a sky full of light.
Added to the ridiculously unseasonable warmth, us stepping out of a March eve in mere t-shirts, and I was hard pressed to remember it wasn't a languorous summer evening, but yet a school night, and thus we had to execute our errand quickly and hurry home.
Besides, I had promised the upstairs neighbors with whom I had parked Jake that we'd be back within the hour, and I sorely did not want to abuse my favor currency with them, would surely be needing to spend it again soon.
Jake himself was delirious to be upstairs with his "best friends" -- the four year-old sister of a pair of brothers who are Ethan's good school friends, and their white terrier, Mac, with whom Jake is nearly as obsessed as he is with our cat.
Ethan and I were on a mission, because I had failed in my mom-duties today: I was to have picked up a particular book for Ethan, another in the once-seeming-endless Warriors series that we are now close to outflanking.
The latest installment comes out in April, and the one before that will appear in paperback the same day, when we will finally snatch it up. I adamantly refuse to purchase these throwaway books in hardcover, so Ethan is going to have to get over his aversion to the library if he wants to read that last one anytime soon.
We absolutely HAD to go to the bookstore because he had finished the last Warriors book in our possession the day before, and thus we were now in the dreaded state of NOTHING TO READ.
I will not mention again the hundred wonderful books, sitting uncracked in our apartment; forlorn, unbeloved, rejected out of hand. Ethan is a picky reader. But for that he is now these past two years an avid reader, I am eternally grateful. I will forgive the undeserved scorn he heaps upon those poor maligned tomes, for the joy suffusing his being as he greedily devours the chosen volumes.
Ethan is in high, silly spirits as we walk the busy Broadway blocks to our local Barnes & Noble, and I am grumpy, nursing a throbbing elbow that may be a cracked bone or terribly distressed tendon. No way to tell until I visit the doctor, which I have such a deep aversion to doing.
I don't mind doctors and their offices, really I don't, feeling quite at home there from the countless hours spent looking after my elderly parents' health. And I kind of like peering inside my body, the few times I have myself merited scans or x-rays, mysteries revealed in dramatic, if ghostly, black and white.
But it's the time I dread; the time, the time, the time I do not have.
And so Ethan skips and darts around me walking down the street, as much crazed mosquito as boy, as I protectively cradle my elbow and brood.
"Look at all the people out in the evening!" Ethan proclaims with wonderment, and I dive again into pointless regret that we are not living anything like the life I had imagined, filled with evening family strolls and nighttime explorations of the city.
Jacob does not like to leave home all that much, and to be out with Jacob and Ethan together is most often a form of torture. I must steel myself for it. I must have some wealth of resilience in my bones, some stored reserve of calm and good mothering at the ready. There are days when I can and days when I can't and today was decidedly in the inconceivable column, my tanks in the red zone, surely running on fumes.
Mission accomplished, book in hand, Ethan and I pushed through the store's glass doors into a city become near night, the sky's blue glow nearly extinguished, the streets bathed in yellow-orange incandescence.
Turning west to walk the two short blocks to Riverside and home, the brightest of stars appeared in the overhead sky. Not stars, planets: Venus and Jupiter blazing, blindingly bright in the deep cerulean sky that slices between the highrises, thankfully not obliterated. These two gods are in a much celebrated love fest this March, a conjunction the likes of which will not manifest again until next May.
And yet, while they appear to be quite close, kissing distance on the Ides, they are in fact not truly crossing at all. It's just an artifact of our perspective, the way they look from here on our own dear mudball.
They are in fact deeply distant from each other, Venus lying sunward from us, drawing us in toward the heart of our solar system, while Jupiter circles round us from the outside. To gaze upon Jupiter is to reach out toward the distant galaxies and the universe's noisy edges at the jagged beginning of time.
I do not like that my children are distant planets, each locked into their own distinct orbits, occasionally approaching but never truly crossing paths, both merely circling 'round me, their sun.
How I wish instead they were more like a double star system, like so many of the other twins we know: circling each other, at times closer, at times more distant but always in orbit, one about the other; connected, entwined, hurtling through space as one.
But I must, as ever, resist the siren pull of the "what ifs," of the dark matter that draws me to its crushing embrace.
I must instead stay here, in the now, in the track of my actual sons.
The one who lives on planet Autism.
And the one who does not.
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