Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Waiting in the Dark

I'm sorry, Mom.

When I was a teen, out with my friends until all hours of the summer nights, I figured that you would know how I was a relatively good kid, and couldn't get into trouble. What I didn't realize was, that even though that is mostly true, that you would worry when I was out late.

Fast-forward some 38 years later: it's a Saturday night and DD15 is out with friends at Bluesfest. I know that she's a good kid who doesn't cause trouble. At least, doesn't create the kind of trouble that I need worry about. But she's still out late, and I'm still waiting for her to come home.

Even though she's out with her friends, and one of the mothers is picking them up and making sure they get safely home, I worry.

And so, on Saturday night, I became one of those parents who sit in the dark, in the living room, waiting until their kid comes through the front door.

When I was growing up, my mother didn't have the luxury of today's technology, where DD15 has a smartphone and can be reached through text or a phone call. When I was out with my friends, my mother couldn't find out where I was and when I was going to be home. She just had to wait.

I texted DD15 shortly after 11, after I knew the concert would be over. I added enough time for DD15 and her friends to leave the festival grounds and make their way toward the rendezvous spot, where—hopefully—a car would be waiting for the girls.

DD15 is good at responding right away, or within a few minutes. She told me that the show was great, that her friends were together, and they were waiting for their ride. Every couple of minutes, we exchanged texts, until DD15 said that she was in her friend's mother's car, and they were en route.

And so, I sat in the dark and waited. DW had already gone upstairs: DD17 was already asleep. But I wasn't going to get ready for bed until my youngest child was safely through our door.

It had been more than 24 hours since DD15 had been home. The other afternoon, she had gone to her best friend's house, where they hung out, had dinner, and then gone out to Bluesfest (she has a full festival pass). After the previous evening's show, she asked if she could sleep over at her friend's house, as she often does on weekends, and I consented. I knew that they would stay up late, but there was nothing pressing for Saturday.

She called after lunch, to say that she and her friend had just woken up. She also asked if she could stay at her friend's house, since they were going back to Bluesfest in a couple of hours, anyway. Again, I consented, on condition that she came home straight after the show because she had weekend chores that required attention.

Plus, we hadn't seen her in almost 24 hours.

Also, her cat, Lily, meows at night, when DD15 isn't home.

As I waited in our living room, in the dark, I continued to text my daughter to find out how much longer before she would be home. Both cats, Lily and Camille, were chasing each other around the room, periodically coming to check on me, wondering why I was sitting in the dark.

I changed up my texting. Not so much as conversation with her, but to amuse myself.

As I tapped Send one last time, I could hear DD15 on the front steps, calling to her friends and the driver, "Thank you!" I knew she wouldn't have seen the very last text.

"Good show?" I asked her as she came through the door. She didn't see me in the dark but she didn't seem to be surprised.

"Oh my God, I was reading your texts out loud on the ride," she said, "everyone was laughing."

I was glad. The texting seemed therapeutic to me. It kept me from worrying while I waited.

So, I'm sorry, Mom. You didn't have any technology to communicate with me, to help occupy your thoughts and time while you waited for me, in the dark.

I get it.

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