Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Austin City Limits...

Okay, I admit it. I goofed off this past weekend.

Instead of grading papers, I went to Austin, TX, to visit my kids and watch my daughter, Dorothy, in a performance. She was part of a cabaret show, "Inside a Broken Clock: A Tom Waits Peepshow," which consisted of a series of vaudeville-type skits set to Tom Waits' music. It was bawdy, it was ribald, it was FUN! And how long has it been since I've done anything remotely FUN?

Let me back up. I left for Austin after my 9am class on Friday. I hit Round Rock about 3:45 in the afternoon, confident that it wouldn't take me more than an hour to get to my children's house in East Austin.

Boy, was I WRONG. I usually get into Austin just after the lunch rush, but I had forgotten that the afternoon "rush" hour begins about 2:30pm on Fridays. The traffic going out of Austin was moving at a dead crawl; going towards downtown, the traffic seemed to be flowing smoothly. I was confident that I'd be off the interstate in no time.

Again, I was WRONG. I clipped along at a comfortable 65mph until I hit Braker Lane. Then, stuck behind an 18-wheeler, I moved (when I moved) at 5mph until I reached my exit--an hour-and-a-half later. Getting on to MLK Drive was easier, but, again, after about two blocks, I again crawled along at 5mph until I passed Airport Drive.

I managed to pull into the driveway at 6pm. The note my daughter left me said that my son, Daniel, would be home by 6pm, but that he had a show that night. He's a rapper--no joke, he's pretty good. Dorothy wrote that she wouldn't be home until midnight or so.

I read, I knitted, I scrounged around the kitchen for food. I finally crashed about 11pm without having seen either of my kids. Daniel came in around midnight and he and I had a brief conversation; he had to get up at 7am for work on Saturday. I heard Dorothy come in, but I was exhausted and couldn't open my eyes.

Regardless of where I am or how late I stayed up the night before, I normally wake up anywhere from 7am to 9am. I couldn't sleep late to save my life. But, this past weekend, I got up extra early because my sinuses flared up and I desperately needed to find a drugstore. I can't find my way around Austin without a guide and Dorothy usually drives me wherever we go.

To get directions, I had to wake her up. Not a good idea. My daughter doesn't like to wake up early and she resists all attempts. I stood in the doorway and called her name. She instantly popped her head up from the pillow and----she was bald. She had shaved off all of her hair. Bald as a baby. Really bald.

I was speechless and it took me several heartbeats to stammer out my request for directions, but not before I blurted, "What did you do to your hair?"

She laughed--"I got tired of it. This is so much easier to deal with right now."

She gave me directions to the drug store and crawled back under the quilt.

I took off for the drugstore and the grocery, came back, made a pot of coffee and waited for her to get up and explain why her head was bald.

I never hasseled my kids about their hair or clothes or anything else that wasn't important. They both have their own styles--they don't need me to tell them how to dress. So, when Daniel grew his hair down his back in high school, the only person who complained was my mother. When he shaved his head his freshman year of college, my mother complained about that. I just couldn't figure out why this was an issue. And I still can't.

Now, for my daughter to shave her head--again, it's her hair. She's dyed it red, blonde, black, orange, pink--every color imaginable--and she's chopped it short and let it grow. It's only hair. But I hadn't seen her bald since she was born. Actually, it makes her look taller. Hmm...I wonder if that would work for me?

So, there I was on Saturday, sitting in the restaurant where my son works, surrounded by bald people--my daughter, my son, and my daughter's boyfriend. I felt out of place. But once I got used to it, I didn't think about it again (until now).

I think both of my kids look fine; they have unique styles of dress, unusual tattoos, and rich social and artistic lives. They are living the lives they want and I couldn't be happier for both of them. One thing they aren't is boring and that's all I care about.


johndoe said...

Ms. Smith,

Even after having come out of the closet - almost 7 years ago now! - my mom is still not as cool and relaxed as I would like her to be. She and my father, however, have come a LONG way, and we can all sit and talk about my love life and what's going on with me and my brother, socially. My brother and I have always been totally honest with mom and dad. They've met all of my lovers - the first boy from Nacogdoches (in a wheel chair), an asshole from Monroe and the Chilean (YUM!) here in Shreveport...who spoke very little English, I must add. [When you are that delicious, English is not really necessary. ...Ah, I'm kidding.] The point is: my mom and dad were totally open with each of my relationships, and I've dated a diverse group of guys. I really felt part of your story; your kids sound like two to definitely meet. I love their seemingly free spirit. We need more guys like them to rock the boat, push the envelope. My mom and dad both understand that I will not forever be in Shreveport. I've got to get out. Shreveport doesn't seem to be a welcoming environment for us who think outside of the box.

Crazy In Shreveport said...

Ahhh Austin traffic. That's what I've been reading in Texas Monthly that it's become quite a nightmare. I vote we move all the Austin weirdness to Shreveport--- the commute is still pretty easy around here.