Wednesday, June 3, 2015

500 Words, Day 14 - Award Night BBQ

She pulls into the high school parking lot and texts her son, “Hi, I’m here.”  There’s no response, as is often the case.   They laugh about it sometimes. “Sorry I missed this," the reply arrives often days after it was needed.  But it’s not funny right now.  She dreads getting out of the car, making her way through an unfamiliar venue.  Shielding her gaze from people she recognizes, but doesn’t know, and people she knows, but doesn’t recognize.  She grasps her phone firmly, tries texting again.  “Where are you?”  Nothing.   Feigning competence, she gets in line for the buffet of grilled food she has no intention of eating.  Although she arrived late, she unwraps the veggie tray she bought from Safeway and puts it on the table, consolidating food from other plates to make room.   She studies the presentation at the front of the courtyard, nodding approvingly and chuckling at the jokes the students are telling as they hand out the awards.  Most Likely to Walk in Late to Class with a Starbucks Cup in Hand makes her smile, but then there are serious ones, too. Most Likely to Win a Webby, a Grammy, Most Improved Artist, Best Designer.   Her son is in this art/music/video/design program; he will begin in the fall.  She peers into the different rooms, one is a recording studio complete with a great mixer, how many tracks is that?  The English classroom is full of books she knows she should be reading.  She surreptitiously takes photos of each shelf to remind herself later.

It’s difficult to be here, and she congratulates herself.  It’s important, and she made it, and so far she has stifled the urge to run back to the car and read until it’s time to go home.  She takes perverse pride in showing up to these things.   She didn’t mention it to her ex.  If he can’t be bothered to subscribe to the e-newsletter that announces such things, that’s not her problem.  Figure it out like everybody else.    

It was his day to drive to school but he forgot.   She had forgotten as well, and she and her son made their way to school and work as they always did.  He texted her around ten o’clock to ask if The Gamer had gotten to school.  “I know it’s my day to take him . . .” and the ellipsis trails off, as vague as his resolve to make good on his promises.   “Yes, I took him,” she texted back.  “Sorry if you came by and we weren’t there.”   His name in her phone is "Straight to Voicemail."

She scowls to herself, but her irritation quickly passes.  She’s really rocking this single mom gig, but let’s face it, even when she was married, she was a single parent, managing schedules, writing checks, making brownies.  Taking care of business all by herself.   Showing up to school events despite crippling social anxiety.   Being there for her son, whom she finally locates on the floor of the Web Audio classroom, playing Cards Against Humanity with a half dozen of his friends.   

“Here you are,” she says, grinning.  “I could have used you earlier.”

“Yeah, I know,”  he says, with a matching grin.  “Sorry I didn’t text you back.”


  1. Story of my life! You help me in ways you'll never know. As a single mom, I've always been the only one there for my kids....despite my anxiety I always 'showed up' because if I didn't there would be no one there for them and , well, we can't ahve that, now can we?

  2. Love your writing. You go girl!