August 14, 2009

Companionable Silence

All summer Julius has been coming to work with me. Some days it has been awesome. Some days it has been an endless nightmare of "is it time to go yet" punctuated by episodes of using too much Scotch tape and cutting little confetti-like bits of paper from the recycle bin that are then strewn liberally around on the dark carpet.

Once he laid a sheet of bubble wrap across the floor and jumped on it. Had I been still living near LA I would have dived under the desk screaming, "It's a DRIVE-BY!" Fortunately those days are behind us. Where I live now what constitutes as a drive-by is a pickup with no muffler, a carton of eggs and two guys name Ray and Joe Bob. (Ray always drives because Joe Bob has a better throwing arm.)

One of the great things about my job is that I have to drive around and look at stuff. Sometimes it's to take a picture of a house for a bank, sometimes I have to find a piece of land for someone, sometimes I list a cabin or some land or show a client something nice they might buy.

Living in the very relaxed South, people generally tolerate me having my kid with me. In my formerly childless life I would have held the opinion that this was unprofessional behavior and would have poo-pooed the whole scenario as distasteful were I a client. Now that my maternal pendulum has swung over to the other extreme I say... screw 'em if they can't handle a six year old tagging along with me now and again. At least it's not Tristan.

Julius is fairly well-behaved when I'm with clients with a few exceptions -- one involving his psychotic break in which he had an emotional collapse over a very large spider in the woods. Another in which he demonstrated possible sociopathic behavior by repeatedly chasing a terrified baby rabbit around someone's yard until I screamed under my breath for him to stop. It came out sort of like "Jhhs!" Out of some form of self-preservation he knew the translation for that was, "Come back and stop chasing that rabbit and embarrassing me in front of these people or you'll be grounded until you're 35 and also possibly I will give you a wedgie."

The other day we took a drive to photograph a house. It was a less-humid morning than usual and the heat hadn't become oppressive yet. We drove with the windows partly down and Julius leaned over to play some Credence Clearwater Revival which is his favorite CD and my most-hated.

Not only that he cranked it up REALLY LOUD so he could hear over the whooshing of the air coming into the windows. We drove along in silence and even though I enjoy CCR about as much as I enjoy listening to crows fight over rancid roadkill I began to get into it. I glanced over to Julius sitting next to me. He gazed out the window watching the world speed past and I wondered what he was thinking.

When my mom talks about his emotional states she always says, "Still waters run deep with that one." She is right. It is so hard to know what he's thinking and feeling. On this day he seems content and contemplative. As we drive through the harsh sounds squalling from the speakers I wonder if he likes CCR because he has a voice that is sometimes rough and harsh. I wonder if it gives him hope that not all successful singers are beautiful singers. Does he even think in those ways? Sometimes I think he does.

I reached my hand over and patted his leg then put both hands back on the wheel. He glanced at me, then back out the window, nodding. Occasionally he leaned forward and pressed the button on the stereo to skip a song or play the same song again: 12, 3, 14, 14, 7, 6, 7...

We drove on in companionable silence, each of us lost in our own fabulous world of dreams and speculation.


  1. These companionable silences with a loved one are awesome - sometimes better than the hoot 'n holler fun times. You can't have them with just anyone, it takes a special one. They speak volumes!

    I used to take my early grade school age daughter to work with me, and I still (30 years later) have one of her early attempts at writing business letters because it was so funny.

  2. Julius has such an old soul! When was the last time you heard of a kid liking CCR?

  3. I love the fact that he likes CCR. My son went through a time when he loved the Beatles. So I got their greatest hits for him. Now at 16 he loves metal that I have to sometimes veto because of content. I miss the Beatle days. LOL

  4. awww. cool story, Wendy. so I'm guessing Tristan is just home alone playing with fire on these days while Julius is with you?

  5. Actually, I'm with Julius--I love CCR! How nice that you can take him with you sometimes.

  6. I would have to agree...I enjoy CCR! I think that it's great that you and Julius can share those moments together, those unspoken memories. He's an old soul only six!

    I love reading your stories...thank you for sharing so many of them with us! They are quite an inspiration on how to express them.

  7. It's great that Julius can come with you during the day, and that you can have some of that special time where neither one of you have to talk, but just enjoy the time together.

  8. Excellent!

    I feel like I am in the back seat riding along with you.

  9. I love CCR - reminds me of summer. But as to your post, lovely moments you will recall and share with Julius when he is older. A bonding. Both of you being who you are.

  10. Being grounded until 35, with a comparative wedgie, would definitely have gotten my attention.

  11. Creedence is great driving music. But if I lived in the south, I feel like I might get sick of it. Like sometimes people in Scotland must think "OK!!! Enough with the bagpipes already!!"

    I actually don't know if CCR were from down South or not. But "Doo doo doo, lookin' out my back door" has always made me feel slightly Alabama.

  12. I am a real estate agent and I have contemplated taking my youngest with me before, but I don't think I ever could. She is a wild heathen and I wouldn't want to scare off perfectly normal people.

  13. beautiful moments...I've always believed that the people you're closest with are those with whom you can be the most quiet.
    i know my mama has looked at me and wondered what quirky things I was contemplating :) as a child and in my adulthood! the journey is fun one.

  14. omg, my sides hurt from laughing...but whaddya mean you don't just love CCR??? oh my. i love 'em but i suppose it's just entirely possible that hearing them makes me feel close (for a second or two) to my long lost youth in the 60s and 70s. followed immediately by the thought that i am SO last century.

    love the moment you describe. those are the most precious. your heart took a picture.


  15. I love that you get to take him with you and also that he seems to be an incredible young man.

    But I want to be clear about something:
    WE CAN GIVE THEM WEDGIES!?!? I'm stoked!


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