I have to keep telling myself that my son's new living quarters in Dublin are fine, that I should not be looking at them through 'Betty Crocker' eyes, that he'll hopefully be spending more time in the library at Trinity, studying his socks off than living in the dark, neglected 'apartment' that we've paid a huge security deposit on and provided to the landlord glowing references vouching for our ability to pay the monthly rent. But such is the accommodation situation in Dublin right now. Exorbitant rents and too few properties to satisfy the demand.
I drove up to the city yesterday morning. It is a two and a half hour drive on the motorway. It provides time to contemplate - clear up the mind. The car is packed with posters; Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, a raunchy Rolling Stones that could make you blush if you were so inclined, a guitar, a coffee pot, three cans of coffee, blankets, pillows, jars of my homemade blackberry jam, a print that says; 'no bird ever soars too high if he soars with his own wings', a kilner jar glistening with homemade granola, paper towels, toilet paper, towels, socks, a zillion t.shirts, blue tack, poster board, underwear, Vans - purple if you happen to care and the list goes on...
When I arrive at my destination my son is standing out at the big security gate to the apartment complex. We hug and unload his gear and this is where he is right now. The apartment appears so dark to me. I suppose way darker because I am used to our big sky windows and the bold light that comes and goes throughout the day, the fleeting moods of the heavens. And I am surprised to see that his room is small, the smallest of the three bedrooms and that the other two roommates have the bigger ones. When I ask him why, he says, 'it's the light, Mom', and he is right about that as the window in his room is the biggest by far and it frames the back of an old cinema called the Stella and for some odd reason what I see reminds me of Edward Hopper, the solitary element of his art. The grass beyond the window is a wannabe lawn, scratchy and mean but you can see the sky. I have to pause then. I have to reflect - the big window and beyond the small boy in faded blue overalls. This is what I see. A small boy playing with bamboo sticks, swinging them about, beating the bushes and the gorse, dwarfed by endless sky and I watching him from the kitchen window, rejoicing in the imagination, the ability to escape.
We line up his books in the limited space and hang the posters and I note that the Miles Davis is tilted but I don't say anything. And when his belongings are all put into place and I turn to go to drive back home to the big sky in the West, I look directly at him him and ask him if he will be okay. He looks at me and smiles, tilts his head and says, 'Mom'. Nothing more. 'Mom'. Just, 'Mom'.