Today is the first day of summer. Don't bother with the technicality. A solstice is a line of demarcation. The beginning and end of summer are gateways for me, the beginning more so. I wasn't ready on June 21 this year (it's rare that I ever am) so mine moved back 8 days. Yesterday I left the office at 5, or close enough with the email still streaming in and things still left undone and not enough instructions and debriefed with my boss on the way out the door saying, listen, you all know how to add a user (it's not so easy anymore, but still) to the system and you all know the required audit trail is pretty serious and you've all heard me talk about it so just do your best. If it piles up unmanageably, just know I'm going to have one hell of a time digging out when I get back. He agreed that nobody in our group should really need that sort of system admin instruction, complex or otherwise. The point is, one of us thinks he's above it and thinks the audit trail is stupid and too much work and the other is afraid of screwing it up and / or thinks it falls outside of his world. It kind of does fall outside of his world but... not really. My boss? Super smart. Work it out.
And my projects? A dead halt. Period. End of story. Anything bursts into flames and it's probably going to stay on fire. I don't really know what to tell you about that. That crap about our plugin deployment to 2500 global users suddenly vanishing on Monday morning and how I got it worked out with GIT maybe sort of and we STILL don't know who did it and who owns it? If it blows while I'm gone, uh, well... you know. It's on fire. Handle it. The things that come out of the woodwork and land in my lap that you don't know anything about? Shit, I don't know. Deal with it or deflect. I sent you report scripts and very clear instructions for something that's coming hard and fast for Friday. Expectation has been set that we probably can't deliver until Monday. We didn't have an SLA to begin with. We never have.
I dropped the weight of sole responsibility on the floor, not my desk, the floor, let him know and then we slid easily into a conversation about the user conference he's just returned from that all of us should have attended and the game all techs or geeks should know how to play called Werewolf (look it up if you don't know) and I asked what time it ended and did you all play to the really end and he said yes, what were people going to do, go back to their hotel rooms and not get eaten? Then he said, you know, nobody who doesn't understand what we're talking about is going to understand what you meant by that and we're going to sound nuts. We sound nuts most of the time anyway. I'm leaving now. Good luck and I'll see you tomorrow. Don't forget to bring that bottle of wine. We've been meaning to drink it since the beginning of the year.
I don't know what to call him anymore. He was the third wheel and he's having a BBQ (that's how he put it) for the team this afternoon and we're all going. I'm going, Elizabeth is going and NM is going despite the weekend craziness and my shortness of time.
Here's the deal:
I have to get Elizabeth packed for camp before we leave for the beach. Here's how this is going to work. We leave at 3 AM? I think that's right although I could change my mind right up until the last minute. We leave at 3 AM Sunday night which is really Monday morning and head to the beach. 559 miles that ends on Highway 12 maybe 10 or 11 hours later, depending on whether I can completely avoid traffic. I can't do it any faster than that because the highway is only about 50%. The rest of it is what you get. I kind of like that.
So that's part of it. Pack Elizabeth into her trunk but about a third of it goes into a bag for the beach and has to go, clean, right back into that trunk within hours of our return. We sleep, get up and head North. This can be done except I really haven't looked at what she has left from last summer that fits and she assures me she has enough. Hearing this? What she has left from last summer that fits. I'm on a ledge here, or she is and we really don't care all that much. It's entirely possible she has 7 or 8 pair of shorts that stretch enough to cover her new hips and butt with enough modesty to make us both happy. Footwear. We have to deal with that today or tomorrow. Same shoes I bought her this time last year. You bet those feet have grown. Socks? Uh. Bathing suit(s). Uh. OK, totally doable as long as neither of us are the least bit neurotic about how it looks. I'm pretty sure we aren't. There is this other thing that matters a whole lot more. It's called dance and it's at the forefront of our lives. No surprise, right?
In truth, this is the line of demarcation. Not the vacation, not the trip to the beach, not the last minute scramble to get to camp in one piece, the true shift between the old studio and the next step.
There's a girl up there with a dream. Seriously. When I started talking to her, really talking to her, the whole thing started to unwind. I knew some of these things but not with the intimacy you pick up when you drive someone to the train station twice a week and really, I've only done this a handful of times, but still. We have traded intimacies and enough of it has fallen into place to confirm what I was starting to understand.
She isn't really a girl and I shouldn't call anyone two years older than my son a girl. I shouldn't call my son a boy. He's 26. But he's my boy. You see this, right? She's very serious; probably always has been, that's one of the things I like about her, I think it's a focus thing. In talking to other parents, mothers mostly, I hear their daughters were scared to death of her for awhile when she first came three years ago. Why?! I ask. These are the older girls. Why?! How can this be? Because the last teacher was, something else I guess. Not so focused, not loved either, but not building dancers.
The girl up there with the dream, as it turns out was home schooled but not really. What I hear in her talking sounds more like something called Radically Unschooled. So she focused on dancing from the age of 9 and that's all that mattered. She certainly learned a whole of other things but there was no focus on meeting state requirements, no diploma, no nothing. Just dance. Later there was an injury and she wanted to go to school for something and she found out that she could do this. She found out, pretty much the same way I did that rules you're led to believe are cast in stone can be bent. They can be WAY bent. Sit for your GED. Pass your GED (this is woefully easy). Enter the University of your choice through the back door called Continuing Education. 12 credits B or better. Matriculate. No shit. I don't even know if you have to sit for your SATs. I had them. She did not. She got in and attended anyway. She looks at me in astonishment when I give her an abridged version of my own discoveries. Life, she tells me, is fluid. The world is fluid. She turns around and looks at the girls in the back seat and tells them she isn't making an argument for any of this. Her point is simply this: Life. Is. Fluid. The world is fluid. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Dream.
Elizabeth. Your mother is special. You are lucky.
I don't know what to make of this. I don't hear this sort of thing well because I am not special. I am a lot of things but special is definitely not one of them unless you want to call it short bus special. What I am is an absolute idiot at best, truly dangerous at worst. I start crying and she gives me that look again and whispers drama queen, smiles and hugs me before she gets out of the car.
I told her about my brother. All of it. I no longer think what my brother did was a miracle. I think it's a fact of life; a normalcy and I wonder why the rest of the world shrugs its collective dreams off so easily. I wonder how I do. I wonder if I really do. I sit back and realize half or more of the people I know are calling me flat out crazy right now and have been for quite some time. I realize I'm OK with that and have been OK with that enough to keep being, doing, being.
Today is the last class for Elizabeth for the summer program. Ballet camp starts week after next and runs three weeks. Elizabeth can go into the city for the last week, which is only three days but she will travel with another mother because I'll be in the middle of the close and won't be able to take her.
I won't see that girl up there again until fall classes begin and I resume my 7 or 7:30 carpool duties. Thursday would have been the last day because Elizabeth's father was supposed to do today's pickup except I changed my mind. I need to do it. I need to see her one more time to say good-bye between the end of old world and the beginning of the dream because no matter how much work the girls have done since the end of the recital, that final leap doesn't really start until those of who walk through the doors in September, having had those checks written (not that they weren't going to be written anyway to someone) actually walk through those doors and approach the barre.
They will, however, begin the work with their shoes without her. It will be OK. FaceTime has been offered but that can't happen while she's away at camp. She'll just have to catch up. I will talk about this when I pick her up today. It will be alright.
Summer is here. She has a dream. What does it mean to leave your job and put everything you have into the belief that if you open the doors the dancers you want build will walk through those doors? I have a vague idea or at least a gut feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have a dream. Elizabeth has a dream. My dream, by the way is not exactly Elizabeth's dream. Mine is more about being a different sort of parent in conjunction with eventually getting the hell out of here and how I'm going to do it. None of us really know how we're going to do this or how it will all work out. We have plans and ideas and we're at the top of that proverbial telephone pole on high ropes except we aren't really roped in. You gotta leap. You aren't alone by a long shot but you gotta leap.
I'm scared. My fingers and arms feel numb writing this. I feel alive. I really have to pack. I really need to just let go.
In the fall, at the end of summer, there will be another line to cross.
Cletus has already been here a week. A stow away with my dad and wife when they stopped by on the way South last weekend. She sent a video from the beach yesterday of the storm that came through. It's expected to rain on and off every day this week. I don't really care. There will be some sun on and off. I'll be in it.
The Low Anthem - Music Box
I don't suppose it matters how much I cry, as long as I keep moving.