S. Eve Rossel
Waiting. Parked in the “pick-up” circle with other middle school parents, I spy you, laughing, chatting with friends. As you spot our car, your face shifts, smile folds, head tucks. Simultaneously, my heart smiles and cringes.
I move to super-Mom-mode, though not a place I inhabit with any honest real-estate.
Hey Bud, good to see you. how was your day?
My query, as you throw your backpack into the trunk. Lowering the hatch you say nothing. Ensconced in your seat, you wave to friends and fasten your seat belt, no acknowledgement of me.
Anything good happen? Are you tired? Hungry? Have you been prepping for the regents? Do you have lots of homework? Who were those friends?
Even to me, my cheerful chatter is annoying, grating, exhausting.
It was okay.
The tone, communicates, “no more questions.”
Emphasizing your demand to stop, your head swivels to the passenger window, dismissing, shutting out.
Relegated. Refocused on driving, on the road ahead, nature screams. Spring greenness flashes, sunlight glints at times blinding. Newly leaved trees alternately block, then invite light.
Driving by Old Salem Farm, riders and horses in full regalia spin the dirt of the manicured courses.
Passing, memories surface.
You and I sitting on the grassy hill across the street, watching the competitors and their steeds as they launched over the fences. You snuggled to my side or on my lap.
Mommy, how do the horses know when to jump?
The rider signals with their hands and legs.
How do they do that?
It takes practice and body control.
Was that only eight years ago? I glance over ready to reminisce; your eyes are closed—maybe asleep, maybe not.
As the car hums into the garage, you stir, wordlessly retrieve your backpack, and without a backward glance, move into the house, shutting the door.
Unmoving behind the wheel, staring into the garage and the entrance to our home, the brown door closed, I feel an over powering urge to tear into the house, screaming at you and the distance between us.
Who do you think you are, couldn’t you wait for me, held the door?
But I sit, moved by other thoughts.
Lately, often, I flounder against your teen tendency to ignore, minimize anything coming from me. A natural progression, but it’s discomforting this disdain coming from those eyes shaped like mine, shaped like hers.
Long ago, she tried to engage my 13-year-old sight.
Traveling from Zurich to Lugano through the St. Gotthard Pass the train ribboned around villages, winding in and out of tunnels, crossing concrete bridges spanning icy mountain divides and the swirling Reuss River. Those clever designers recognized the value of a circuitous, winding route.
You relentlessly thrummed my senses; unfazed by my 13-year-old lassitude.
Look at that mountain, the highest point in Zurich…
Taste this blood sausage, you’ll like it…
This is the canton Uri one of the first in the Swiss federation…
Isn't it amazing...
On this excursion, it was more of the same.
Look out the window; see that village, the church and surroundings will change.
Rhythmically movement managed by the the train, nonchalantly my eyes scanned the mountainous, winter landscape, settling based on your pointing arm on what seemed only another snow-covered Alpine village, nestled high above.
Watch that church. You encouraged.
The one with that goofy bulbous top that looks like a garlic clove?
Watch… You started and were silenced.
A loud swoosh and clap overpowered your voice; the train shuddered into a tunnel, and clattering, echoing long darkness.
Till, almost comforted by the deep dark, you were at my ear.
Wait, the tunnel is ending.
Shuttling from the blackness, you pressed.
The village and church were at eye-level, details apparent, shimmering stained glass, walkways, cars, people. Tunneling through the darkness, we had muscled up the mountain.
See, we are so much closer, doesn’t it look different?
Soon enough we again, plunged into jostling, dark thundering. Unlike before, this was a heavy endless blindness, no light.
The tunnel felt too long, So long.
Finally, a pinpoint appeared.
Piercing out of the darkness, the sun was bright, blinding.
We were part of the mountain whizzing on tracks carved along the craggy rock face, sky above, the garlic sanctuary far below our motoring view.
You forewarned the final sighting.
This is the last time you will see the church.
Mom, jeez, the train moved up the mountain that’s it.
But it changed how you saw things, yes? you volleyed.
The next tunnel was the longest, interminable, flicking a foreboding, deep panic. Would this never end?
And just as unexpectedly, relief as suddenly the train shot into brightness made more brilliant following the throbbing darkness.
Your arms waved in a grandiose gesture, encompassing the scenery.
We’re on the other side in Airolo. Everything is different, no snow. We’ll be in Lugano soon and there’ll be palm trees, it’ll be warm.
Feigning disinterest, I turned away, hoping to quash your fervor. Of course that did not diminish you.
Staring at the closed dark door, my hand reaches into the glovebox and pulls out the notebook always at the ready.
You're amazing and I love you.
This mother/child thing is a fraught passage. We’re connected, despite moments when maybe you wish we weren’t. Stay steady, this won’t always be the case. I hope.
I would like to go with you on a train through the Swiss Alps. The trip through miles of mountain is an engineering marvel, but it is the vibrations of the rocking movement through darkness and light, circling changing vistas of a village church that echoes in my heart. The journey between Andermatt and Airolo takes barely an hour, but over these 50 years it has become my metaphor for the value of altered perspectives. Amazing how such a brief spot of time can speak so deeply, rest so permanently.
Ultimately, you’ll choose what to remember, but I would like to put you in front of life and poetry and hope it resonates.
No matter what, I love you.