I’m at another pause in my days; this usually happens in May and June as things slow towards the hot languid pace of summer. I don’t know what to do with myself, especially given that I’m not often called upon to mother my sons. They are so independent, each in their own way. Rising while I float. I guess I’m reflecting a little, considering where I am and where I want to go. I know that my journey is still a path parallel to my boys, winding around them but still separate.
I’m thinking of writing a new book, which springs from stuff I’ve learned after writing Dirt. In Dirt, the best part of the book was Nick, the teenager based on Nat. I tried to be inside Nick/Nat’s head, I tried to be him in order to make his character real. I wanted a character who had full-blown autism, because as most of my readers know, full-blown autism still means full personality/personhood, and yet so few people realize this. I do, because I’ve lived with Nat since his conception, February 14, 1989. That night, after a Valentine’s Day Thai dinner, and after love, I saw this star burst in my mind, in the dark. That was Nat.
I wouldn’t say he was a mystical child, but I will say that he was my firstborn, and therefore utterly special because before him there were none. Thoughts of his earliest days fill my heart with the most tender pain, which comes from slicing open delicately the flesh of your life to make room for this new one.
The fact of our connection is the mystical thing, the wonder of my life. I want to write about that, but especially I want to write about what happened to Nat himself. I’m thinking that this book will be Nat’s story — it has to be a novel because it is imagined — but it will be born of my connection to Nat, and his words, to whatever degree possible. I haven’t always felt connected to Nat, and I guess that’s because for his first 10 years I was afraid of him. Not constantly, but it perforated my relationship with him, shot it through with holes. I was learning, and learning isn’t easy. So it wasn’t until I had that epiphany that day, when he was 12 and just horrible, and I was tickling him, poking him because he was fake-laughing and being so annoying, that I didn’t know what to do, so I just acted without thinking. No shield of thought going up, no adult analysis; just a natural reaction to an annoying kid you love. That moment, when our eyes met and we were suddenly laughing together at the same fun thing — our play fight — there was another star burst, and I knew that he was mine, really mine. No more fear.
The years they are a-flyin’ and I find I am an Old Mom, and my sons are growing-grown. There is a distance again that I feel with Nat (and Max) as men; Ben as an emerging man. There is just this maleness they exude that gives me pause. It’s funny to think that now although there is distance there is no fear, no sadness. It is just another tender pang that I feel for them as I hang here, and they climb skyward towards their zenith, my three stars.