I sat at the table opposite my son and wondered not only at his ability to sound just like his father, but also to eat an entire bowl of fruit salad. A bowl that held at least 9 different fruits in their entirety and while I supposed the bite-sized chunks didn’t mind being nestled amongst each other in the plastic bowl, I did suppose they minded being inhaled without a second thought.
“And if Dad moves for his new job, it might be as far as Norway or something. We might spend six months abroad.” He chomped and fiddled his fork into another piece of papaya.
“Norway?” I blinked my eyes a few times. No words were readily available.
“Well, that’s just one idea. He’s also looking for jobs California.”
All the nights I planned with Joe the best way to move here. All the days spent telling ourselves that the sacrifices were worth it – living in this area we can’t afford – because it was close to them. And they needed me close to them. We were so wrong. Even more wrong than I knew last month. Last week. Five minutes ago. But those words weren’t ready to be spoken. So I stared at his jaw, chewing, and said only, “Wow.”
“It might be fun. And even if his new job is in San Diego, the football is great there.” Always thinking about football. It’s important. More important than me to a fifteen-year-old boy. Normal.
“I think what I’m wondering,” I said, “Is why you’re so ready to move after your dad telling me for the past 5 years how important it is for you to be here, in this particular spot, for the schools and the football.”
“Like I said,” he said casually, piercing a strawberry, “they have great schools and football there.”
“Where I used to live.” I stated. “Before I moved here. To be with you.”
“Uh, yes.” And he looked up and met my eyes, for the first time registering what I was getting at.
I maintained eye contact, holding him with my gaze for a moment before dropping it out of kindness. My goal, after all, is not to skewer him like fruit on a fork. “And you never thought of me as a viable home? If your dad moves, you could stay with me and finish high school – that didn’t cross your mind? To stay at this very important school? And football team? With me?”
The squirming was almost invisible, but it was there. He stared at a green grape and pushed it around with the tip of the tine, slowly, in the nearly empty bowl. “No.” And then his eyes met mine and he stared. ‘It didn’t. I don’t know why.” His eyes were slightly shocked and a little wary. And sad. And tired.
“But the football and the schools are great in San Diego, too.” I said quietly and quickly, taking his point of view. To save …what….? The moment? His feelings? “And it might be fun to move. It’s been a while since you have.”
“Ya, it’s kind of like starting over. It might be fun.” And with gusto, he took in the last bite.