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April – What’s Blooming?

 As the mother of two teenagers, it is hard to catch those fleeting moments when we find an actual connection.  The norm these days consists of heavy sighs, eye rolls and the put-upon air of kids sure that their parents are the biggest idiots on the planet.  Though the kids are blossoming in many ways, it’s sometimes hard to see them as anything but stubborn little dandelions…that’s really a much nicer description than I would normally use.

Tonight, I got lucky.  Both kids were in mellow moods.  Because Dave was overseeing a project at work, and would be late, the kids & I met our cousins for dinner.  On Friday nights, we normally meet at a local pizza place; but, because Lisa’s chemo plays havoc with her taste buds, it’s better to go with something that sounds good to her at that moment.  Tonight, it was Chinese.  This is just unusual enough for my kids that it created some anticipation for the meal.  They like to try new things, and both ordered something different.

After a delicious dinner, and a good time with the cousins, we got into the car, rolled down the windows, turned on the radio and headed for home.  We frequently implore the “Radio Gods” to be kind, as we are shameless chanteuses in the car.  I’m a notorious station flipper…if I don’t like a song, I scan the dial until I find something we can sing along to.  Tonight, we ran the gamut from  Adele to the Talking Heads to Loretta Lynn to Muse.  As we neared home, THE driving song came on…Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  Let the head banging commence…yes, our kids have seen “Wayne’s World.”  Don’t judge me.

With the song only about half way through as we got to the light at our subdivision, Isabel said we should drive until the song ended.  More time with Mom, in an enclosed space?  Really?  Ben chimed in from the back, “Yeah, I like this song!”

Instead of turning into our neighborhood, I continued down the road.  We live in the far northwest corner of the Valley.  We’re the last stop as you head out of town toward Vegas, and nestled in among three different retirement communities.  If you take the main drag that runs along the top of the town straight west, you’ll go past our neighborhood, and then it continues on out west, into the sunset.  It goes around the mountains that border the west side and connects with I-10 past the connection to I-8 for San Diego.

I had never made that loop, and decided we’d try it out.  We were delighted to find a decent highway that wound around the mountains and rolled through towering stands of blooming saguaro.  The air was soft…it wasn’t until recently that I understood exactly what that means.  The breeze was enough to silence us as we looked out the windows.  The colors of the sunset were muted pastels, and the cacti stood out in sharp relief.  We lost the light very quickly, and with finding ourselves on the west side of the White Tanks, the light pollution from the city was cut drastically.  Looking up through the sunroof, we could see the stars popping out by the dozens.  I was tempted to pull off the road, but about every quarter mile, there were big yellow signs warning us to “Watch for Animals.”  I’m a city kid, but I’m smart enough to know that dusk is prime time for   coyotes, javalinas and other predators.  We minded our business and continued on.

By the time we worked our way across the back side of the White Tanks and linked up at the freeway, we’d been driving for about half an hour.  We hadn’t talked much, but the silence was companionable.  We got to our intersection at exactly the one hour mark.  Perhaps a drive is not the smartest thing in this time of rising gas prices and shrinking wallets; but, the time that I gained with my kids and the peek through that little peephole at the people they are becoming was worth the cents more per gallon.

We hadn’t had any other plans for the evening…just time on the internet for me, video games for the kids, and an early night.  My heart tonight, is happy.  We’re letting a few little buds of the friendships I hope to have with both kids as they get older nudge through the soil.  Our drive swept away, at least for a while, the angst and surliness that comes as par for the course with teenagers.  I’m sorry that Dave missed out.  We’ll just have to load up some Queen on the iPod, so that it’s handy the next time I need an excuse to send us driving into the sunset together.

(image credit – James Swinnerton, Blue Coyote Gallery)