Making Out: Rearview
Making Out is a series centered on how Jess Burnquist, mother, writer, and teacher is "making out' as she processes adolescent issues amid the glare of parenthood and the shadows of nostalgia.
The giggling. The design of evenings. Whispers and codespeak. Our daughter’s age of friendship has begun. It is different than our son’s outward orbit. His friendships formed without finesse on courts and fields.
How we stretched into our spring season double-jacked into your Walkman. Or was it mine? Our dreams mingled, floated like yellow palo verde petals--vibrant, fluttering, ready to burst against the Arizona afternoon sky. There were landlines. Meet you halfway, jinx--we’d yell into our respective telephones. Sometimes I still look for your auburn hair to rise with the hill on your side of the park. All of our plans, Cathy.
I can’t help but think of my mother. I don’t recall heart-to-hearts. Some arguments. Impossible, articulating the root of my anger or fear without losing my new sense of self. Still, even if I slammed the door before leaving for the park, she let me go. And when my best friend began to pull away, my mother’s arms encircled me. It will be okay. It will get better. And she was half right.
Driving to school, my daughter can’t hear me. She uses new technology to escape into the beginnings of her life. There is a sense of abandonment that I expected and that I could have never imagined. Nostalgia behaves either like a noxious gas or the comforting scent of Cathy’s mom’s popover muffins. The fabric and art of her house. Pale lavender and mint paint, endless sleepovers on the antique frames transported from Tennessee. The messes that never warranted reproach. How such safety afforded me to consider my own possibilities.
I ask my daughter if she has a best friend. She responds that all of her friends are the best. Is this how it’s supposed to be? I wonder if the closeness in age to her brother means that
she doesn’t long for a sister-friend. Half-a-heart pendant on another’s neck with either the word best, or friend etched in silver.
Last weekend my husband, my better-half, began searching the garage for some paperwork. He left a coin purse from one of the boxes on the bed. My name was printed all over it. Inside were stickers that my best friend gave me when I turned 13. A page of Jessica, stuffed in a purse of Jessica carried and forgotten through the last 30 years of my life. So many of my selves were gifted. She now calls herself Catherine. I prefer Jess. The lengths of some friendships vary.
In the car, my daughter can’t hear me but I am jolted by a song on my playlist. The one we rewound until the cassette tape became dangerously thin. These friendships, I tell her--you will never outgrow them. I can smell the park’s fresh-cut bermuda, feel the strange sensation of being on the edge of everything. I haven’t spoken to her in years, I say to my lost daughter. We are at the on-ramp. What? Were you talking to me? I shake my head no, then gain speed, distance.
You may find archived installments of Making Out, and other work by Jess, at http://www.jessburnquist.com/.