I am late in posting this time around. We’ve been on the road as a family. It’s Spring Break in our town, and with one who is a high school junior and another who is just two years behind that, we are taking a look at universities and colleges. What an interesting ride it has been.
Our journey has taken us deep into the Southern United States, into places none of us has ever been. It has been fun, meeting new people and learning new customs. This is something neither the hubby nor I did before we set off for college. We simply applied to the schools closest to home, but Michael is determined to explore this world. He is drinking this whole experience in, taking risks, trying new things. He is excited about the world. Blake, on the other hand, could not be more uncomfortable.
Take a teen who is full of rituals and fears and show him the world. This young man is not liking it one bit. He feels suspicious. He feels scared. And he is clinging to his rituals more tightly than ever. When we drive, there are plenty of “how much longer will we be driving” questions and “I am suspicious” statements and “I need to go home (or to the hotel) NOW!” demands. He has to pray. He has to avoid the food. He cannot touch this or that.
I’ve watched Blake squirm nearly constantly over the last several days. It makes me feel sad. I feel incredulous when he uses a clean piece of clothing to pick up his own “dirty” underwear. I feel impatient as he stops to pray (yet again) and begs for my phone so that he can research the “right” thing to do in this instance. I miss him terribly when the rest of us stop to eat and he won’t even get out of the car to join us because the outdoor tables might be contaminated from remnants of food long ago eaten. And I feel so achy inside when a woman we’ve just met, a psychology professor from Canada, tells me, “Your younger son is wonderful, but, you realize he needs help…” Yes, I assure her, I realize it (I don’t go into the whole story about how he refuses that help).
And, yet, there are also small slivers of beauty. Yesterday, as we drove a long, lonely road, I pulled out the iPod and played some old songs: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Then Night Chicago Died.” As we all break into song and join in, Blake’s voice rises above the rest of us. He is exuberant and animated as he busts out the tunes. My husband squeezes my hand, and we both take in the piercing loveliness of the moment.