Monday, September 05, 2005

Ah, Sweet Youth

Friday night I decamped for the interior, arriving in Redding in time to see my niece cheering on the football team. It felt both a little exhilarating and a little foreign to be surrounded by Today's Youth: low-cut fashions and spirit attire, in this case in hand-crafted tshirts and fuzzy accessories in shades of yellow and black--my niece is a Hornet; an excellent school band led by a very popular teacher sporting a Viking helmet; a fence and track separating the players from the crowd, which apparently can get quite passionate, mostly on the part of parents. I sat with my brother and his wife and their friends, ate snack-shack pizza, bought a black and gold Hornets tshirt and changed into it in the bathroom to show my support. My nephew was sitting with friends but stopped by to give me a hug--every time I see him, he's a little taller, his voice a little deeper.

The visit has prompted me to revisit my child-free decision. Not that I've wavered from my chosen path--it's just that I know that there are many worlds that I don't intersect with mine, but I particularly miss being around a younger generation regularly. Later as we hung out in the living room with several of my niece's friends ("Aunt Suzi, you better sleep in my room--we're going to be pretty loud"), I felt so awkward, an unhip aged galumph of a 'dult, as I used to call grown-ups in my teen years. I wanted somehow to impress them, be the cool auntie, a supermodel or rockstar, something bright to attract them from their own trajectory which is fast diverging from mine. How often will I see them once they leave home?

This seems like such a particularly fragile/fleeting/amazing time in their lives. They were children for so long, and now they aren't. They aren't exactly adults, either, but it's a transition that goes by in the blink of an eye, doesn't it? My niece is talking about college. And it's so wonderful seeing her taking control of her life, taking responsibility for how she spends her time. The day after the game, she cleaned the house and then ran some errands, driving her own car. She scolded her brother for leaving the cap off the toothpaste, demonstrating how the cap should be applied, like a flight attendant with a seat belt. Woe betide her college roommates!

While in Redding I also saw my nephew's football game--he plays defense and offense, so lots of field time--which happened to be a game where the cheerleaders are coached by my niece. It was truly a football coupla days--my brother is the local college's athletic equipment manager, and that evening we saw the college game. Another opportunity to be a voyeur of youth, how they laughed, tossed their hair, rearranged their cliques in the bleachers. But I think my favorite part of that game was the half-time, when the kids took over the field to play catch. There was one pair, a father and his young daughter. She was perhaps ten or eleven years old, tanned, no sign of hormones protruding, a joy to watch. She never flinched as the pigskin flew towards her, waiting for it with a casual grace, raising her arms to catch it at the last moment. She was so at ease with the ball, launching it perfectly at her dad, even when he was running a pattern. And she ran beautifully too, starting slow then digging in and accelerating like a pro receiver. I wonder how long her game of catch will last.

*****

The trip was a good visit for TV, too. I had some downtime alone when the rest of the family was off suiting or wrapping up, so I was able to take in Iron Chef America, The Sopranos, and an Agassi match in the US Open. And I missed it, but during the post-game party, my niece was on TV, shown with her squad--the local station gives the school teams lots of air time, and she's quite photogenic.

We also looked at Hurricane Katrina coverage, which I couldn't take for very long. It reminded me of September 11, 2001, when I fled work and came home to glue myself to the tube so I could watch reruns of the devastation over and over again, thinking it would help, but it only made me feel worse. The disaster aftermath is making me very angry, too, and a little scared. How would this bluest of states fare if a disaster, natural or otherwise, befell us? I'm starting to gather my emergency kit together this week.

*****

In this time of blessings-counting, I am reminded harder than ever that I am so very lucky to have an incredible family, both immediate and extended, to call my own. During my few days with my brothers and their families, they showered me with kindnesses. My younger brother tucked a bouquet of flowers from his garden into my dashboard, the gardenia scent keeping my company all the way home. Stopping at my older brother's place in Chico, I was greeted with gifts and treated to lunch. I was also treated to a peek at another wonderful time in a young life: my other nephew learning to spell. "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars" are his favorite phrases. He drew me an owl-themed birthday card (Hedwig on one side, the Owl in the Shower on the other), which I am quite enamored of.

While in Redding, I particularly enjoyed morning time with my brother. We were the earliest risers which afforded us several hours to just sit and talk and gossip together. How I wish I could do that more often. It's hard being hours away from my family...but would we have these conversations if I lived down the block? Would we take our time together for granted if we were neighbors?

(Confidential to DoJers: We'd like to propose a Descendants of Julia reunion at the Lake in '06--any thoughts?)

*****

It's Monday, Labor Day. Car, clothes, dog, and floor all needed to be washed. Well, 50% is not too bad. I've been roundly cursed at by the hummingbirds several times this morning (who knew they could be so loud?) and Rex and I were cruised by the vultures while sunning ourselves on the deck this afternoon as I finished off Harry Potter. I should've written something for writers group tomorrow night rather than spending so much time on this blog. Oy, I don't think I've brought anything in for comments in months...sorry, girls.

4 Comments:

At 9:13 AM, September 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But your blog brings tears to my eyes because it is so wonderful, so precious.

 
At 4:04 PM, September 06, 2005, Anonymous A.J. said...

Suz- your blog brought tears to my eyes also.

DOJ in '06 sounds really good to me also.

I spent most of the day, finding negatives from our visits to the Wilbur farm, scanning them for Lloyd as he requested. Because of yesterdays blog, Beulah's birthday. A.J.

 
At 4:44 PM, September 06, 2005, Anonymous Kamala said...

Would love to do DOJ at the lake. As late as possible in the summer so my kids are there.

 
At 5:08 PM, September 06, 2005, Blogger Nancy said...

A birthday card - did you have a birthday? Happy Birthday!

Your comments about being with your teenage nieces and nephews were familiar, as my 18-year-old (favorite) nephew recently moved to town and I've been thinking similar thoughts. He spent sunday night and all of yesterday with us. It's interesting having him my life more, and I can really enjoy him, more than I will enjoy Anthony at that age because with my nephew, I can totally encourage him in all the exploration he has to do, but with Anthony, I'll worry myself sick over every step he takes away from me. There are some hard things you're lucky to avoid.

 

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