Waves of Time
The long-awaited evening was warm, even for June. How stunning these newly minted adults looked. The guys in their rented tux jackets and vests, pants cuffing sloppily at shiny dress shoes. Girls, a bouquet of bright colors, my oldest daughter in lime green. I didn’t know all of these girls, but I suspected their color and cleavage matched personality and availability.
Click, click, whirrrr. An army of amateur parental photographers trained their weapons on target. Picture upon picture the kids patiently tolerated. Grouped and regrouped. “Over here. Over there. Just the guys. Now just the ladies. Oh, now a funny one.” The parents behind the camera lenses wanted, not only to capture this moment, but to hold on to these young people. To keep them from moving on, walking through the prom night archway into adulthood.
I have always found it confining to look through the camera lens. Focusing on my object, the framing, the coloring, centering and enlarging, I find the subject becomes almost secondary. Perhaps this is the way with professional photographers looking for the perfect pose, perfect expression, perfect look. They are practiced at capturing that moment, suspended, preserved for all time. But here, in this front yard, was unfolding.
I stopped my clicking to study the scene unfettered by the camera lens. Most smiles were fading, the twinkle of the eyes long gone, and those which remained were false, affixed only for the camera. James, my daughter’s date, glared rather than smiled. It was time. Time to release them to their evening. To their fun. To each other. Time for us to let go.
Two by two they turned toward the gargantuan hummer limo, their chariot for the evening. It waited patiently, invitingly by the curb. Dutifully, each pair went to express their goodbyes to the gathered parents, who woefully returned their cameras to their pockets and pocketbooks.
James and Jodi came, together, to say goodbye. A formality, but also an expression of respect. Together they were comfortable, connected. Each bigger and brighter in the presence of the other. I liked this boy. He had potential.
I hadn’t rehearsed this moment. What was there to say? I looked slowly from one face to the other. Jodi, never demonstrative, was impatient with the pause, the closeness. It made her uncomfortable. Her expression told me all of this. James, my recently “adopted son in law,” offered me a different expression. A thank you for supporting us, for making this moment possible, for allowing me to be with the one who makes my heart leap. There weren’t words for any of this, yet paragraphs were transmitted in the speed of a glance.
I put one hand around each waist. Hers slim, beclad in smooth, lime green, form fitting, silk. His trim, even under layers of dress shirt and vest and jacket. Both of them products of years spent on soccer fields across the world, playing, training, performing…living up to parental expectations. Now, in a different uniform. Independent and beautiful. Perfect miniatures atop a wedding cake; would it be theirs?
“Take care of each other,” I heard myself say. It was what I wanted most in that moment as I released them to the ways of the world. A world in which they must look out for each other. Make decisions based on the others’ needs and desires. Out of the love they felt for the other. How I wanted this for them. Jodi, twisting in the discomfort, was impatient to go. But James understood, or at least understood what I needed to hear. “We will.”
I released them to each other. Trusting kindness of heart to care for the body, soul and spirit on this night. This night of temptations. When the world would whisper, “this is better. Go this way.”
They disappeared through the limo doorway; darkened windows obscuring the rest. Secluding. Preventing. Our parting waves staring mockingly back at us. This reminded me of another day. Waving excitedly to the kindergartners as the school bus pulled away. On that day smiling faces shone back at us, happily returning our wave. I wish I had that on film.
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