I'm off to Tree Hugger University this afternoon to get Velvet.
We'll come back to the city in the morning through the Catskills.
We may get a Christmas tree up there somewhere and toss it in the back of my 2003Subaru Forester on top of the laundry.
Last night, Velvet and I were on the phone talking about his semester. He actually apologized for letting us (his parents) down with his grades. I told him that was a very nice thing to say, and that while I had expected a better report card, he had done great. Not everyone can be King of the Halloween party.
Velvet sounded so mature and responsible that I was bursting with admiration and pride. He took responsibility for getting behind in class, and he's got a plan to address his academic issues that involves taking fewer classes. Personally, I have supported the idea of a lighter course load all along because it's his first experience with Mainstream education. He has been in a self-contained, private school for kids with Dyslexia, ADHD and other sundry language based disorders since second grade, and while it wasn't perfect - in the land of American Education, Velvet's school was out-fucking-standing. That school is so great, someone should arrange a fireworks display in their honor.
Velvet may have gotten to college and fallen on his academic ass, but he sees that Tree Hugger University was probably trying to teach him a lesson. I'm sure they were. It's been clear for a long time that Velvet would have to fall on his ass before he decided to cultivate a little motivation for school stuff. Until he got to college, he skated through school. He's not the first kid to do that - or to find out in Calculus I that he's no longer the smartest kid in the class.
I doubt that I can make it all 4 - 5 hours in the car without saying "I told you so," but I've been so accepting, understanding, empathetic and all together supportive, loving and proud through this vignette that a little gloating is okay.
Velvet was glad to hear that I have had the benefit of a couple of advisers this semester who have convinced me that an F or two on your first college report card is not the end of the world -- notably, Woody (Walled-In Pond, The Well-Armed Lamb, and others) who was a college professor himself for a while and understands that universities "separate the sheep from the goats," during the first semester. Velvet will be on academic probation, no doubt, but he's not kicked out. That's a victory. Bradley, my first love in Austin, spoke in Velvet's behalf, and The Man from San Antone was particularly helpful during the King of the Halloween Party episode. As Velvet was pointing out that four years in college is simply a guideline - kind of like the Captain John Sparrow says about the Pirate Code - I had to interrupt him to say that I took five years, myself, and The Man from San Antone took six. What's the rush?
Although the Pirate Code applies just as well to college as it does to life on the seven seas, Velvet himself looks more like a scrawny, young Wolverine which is a testimony to how well Max the Genius cuts hair. Velvet's hair is fabulous even when it hasn't been regularly trimmed.
I am positively delighted to getting my baby today. Back over the summer, when I was getting used to the idea that he was growing up, there were distinct similarities between his situation, my changing role as a mother, and the Sondheim/Lapine musical Into the Woods:
In August, both Velvet and I were hovering on the edge of the forest searching for the right path. We are both fully on our paths now, and I have confidence they are the right paths even though no one knows where they are leading yet.
I've had a lot of support during his formative years so I could become the mother I wanted to be. Growing up is never easy for anyone, and we're all still growing up. At least, people should continue to grow and evolve as long as they are living.
One of the things that makes me proud is that Velvet is everything I wish a kid would be - which means that I must have internalized the moral of Sondheim's story: Watch what you say/Children will listen.
Every day, there is a mountain of evidence that the world is a horrible place filled with awful, awful people - that's what makes The Woods so scary (and let's leave the Tiger Woods family out of this even though he's pretty scary making all that money off sweat-shops and obscene consumption at that resort in Dubai with unfair labor practices and illegal sex trade. Who cares if he fucked 15 porn stars and cocktail waitresses? How many kids got fucked because of him?). I'm thinking more about Joe Lieberman and every other whore in congress, those bastards at C-Street who thrive from the patriarchal double standard - and all the pedophiles and murders out there. The World is a scary, scary place.
But it can also be beautiful - in small, private ways. The intimacy between people feeds our souls. I have little moments like that in my classroom every day, but Velvet and I have those moments all the time.
As I'm fixing to go to Texas for the holidays, sans Velvet, I'm walking back into intimacy so warm you can wrap yourself up in it like a cashmere shawl. It's humbling and exciting to be surrounded by so much love -- With my family and my oldest, dearest friends, like Bradley and The Man from San Antone, and all my buddies from High School who are still in Austin. The best thing is that when I come back home to New York, there is intimacy here too - not only with Velvet, but also with dear friends like Gigi, the daughter I never had, and Kyle and DN. When I think about my New York friends, I can see that I've been able to develop and sustain relationships which is one of the main goals of therapy, after all. Many of my most important relationships predate therapy which suggests that I've always had this capacity, but it's not always easy since when we're intimate, we're vulnerable and occasionally devastate each other.
That vulnerability is so alarming to many people that they can't tolerate intimacy. Buzz Kill is like that, and I'm pretty sure that guy who won't talk to me is like that too. That's probably why he won't talk to me. I make this observation with all the acceptance and empathy of anyone who knows that it takes one to know one - and the recognition that despite the intimacy issues in their adult relationships, both men are dedicated, loving fathers.
One thing I've learned on the long path to recovery from suicidal depression is that I can trust the process - which is much the same as Bokonism. Things happen as they are supposed to happen. G*d doesn't have a damn thing to do with it - it's a simply the laws of physics. At least I think it's physics. I quit taking math and science the minute it was no longer required to focus on the Humanities. As it happens, there's every reason to believe that the force of creation created Life, The Universe and Everything which includes science. Science and Theology are not mutually exclusive unless you're Sarah Palin and them.
Those folks are just making money off fear and God anyway - which brings me to the idea of a religious cult built around sexual mysticism. That's an idea I'll be developing in a trailer home in the hills outside Austin. When you've got a trailer in the Texas countryside, you're already half way set up to have a cult. All we need now is a website set up for donations via pay pal.