In the Hands of Women

May 9, 2012

“Thanks for taking me on these boring errands,” Nate said.  We were driving between the tailor and the florist, prepping for prom.

“I can’t begin to express how happy I am to be doing this,” I told him.

“Did you go to your prom?” he asked me.  “No,” I said, “but I’m really glad you’re going to yours.”

The tailor had great and loving energy, her woman’s touch pinning to get his suit just right.  The young woman at the florist channeled romantic enthusiasm to work with Nate on the exact color palate of the corsage, while the sales woman at the store, not that far removed from her own prom, helped match a tie perfectly to the dress she gazed at on his phone screen.

For months I have been intermittently melancholy about launching and separation, at times swept by tears and nostalgia.  But as Nate and I zipped around our neighborhood, no shop or stop farther than a mile from home, I could not have been happier.

The plan was for parents to gather and take pictures before the kids embarked by busses, limos and cars for a hotel ballroom and the after-party beyond.  The energy of that photo-op surrounded me like cross-hatching waves of innocence lapping at the shore of experience.

A friend asked, “Would you want to go back and be a teen again?” and  I realized that I would not, even if I could bring my current insights born of age and life along with me.

I just want to be myself now, as I am, where I am, when I am.  I looked into the eyes of young emerging adults, and of parents letting go, and I saw love and spirit everywhere I looked.

Twenty years ago I was drinking Margaritas at El Coyote with my dear friend.  We met there every Tuesday for years, through crappy jobs and big breaks (at least for my friend) and the ebb and flow of early adulthood.

There were fires burning on the TV of the bar as we left, suddenly aware that things had gotten heated in our city of angels.  Whatever it was all to mean, I stepped into the lobby of my apartment in Hollywood through a door no longer there—it was now a carpet of twinkling safety glass, blown out by gunfire.

From my apartment Andy and I watched the fires burn on TV and out our windows:  the same fires from different angles in our city of angels.

I took a lot of pictures before Nate’s prom.  Everything looked beautiful to me—not sad and fleeting, not an ending of a special time, or even necessarily a beginning of a new time:  rather, it just was its own time and I felt so happy and present and sad and hopeful and eternal and aging and renewed and awakening and fine with everything and everyone, filled with gratitude and beginner mind.

As the kids embarked into their night I mentioned Our Town to a doctor dad, and he didn’t know the play, but when I explained the theme and Emily’s poignant realization of life’s beauty, but only after life’s end, my friend readily shared with me how he had left an important medical conference to be present to this moment—just now fully grasping in the fading light how much he had missed already, and how much he needed to be here now.

And then I was in bed with a book as my son and his friends danced and laughed and owned their night and their time and life as it rushes to meet their unfurling steps.

As I turned the pages of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying I felt a red robe of friendship whispering that although all is impermanence, love and relating to each other is the point, the key, the treasure and the door; it is the carpet and the jewels, the blossom and the kiss; it is the comfort and the freedom, the bond and the embrace; Love is the hello and the good-bye, the quarrel and the repair.  It is the coming and the going, the reaping and the sowing; it is the mirror on pins and needles, it is the just sewing; it is the scent of jasmine in the night, the feel of air soft on our soft skin, the stubble on a chin, the fizz evervescsently floating over vanished gin, paths that led me through the out-door in, and finally through the in-door out.

In the morning there were boys everywhere, rumpled suits and sweetly tired eyes.

And in the night of Sunday, gazing at pictures of the pre-prom with Nate, he remarked that it will be fun, when he is my age, to look back at these pictures.  And he thanked me again for being excited about all of this—and best of all, he gave me his blessing to include these pictures; beyond the awkward skirmishes of the past, it’s just so crystal clear that we all (across bounds of family, friendship, age, community and world-view) love each other so much—a rippling Love whose Truth sounds a note not old or far away, but eternal; the ephemeral dance of what remains, not of our days or nights, but of our Love.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey May 9, 2012 at 7:02 am

This is so, so lovely Bruce. Bravo to being present in our lives, and documenting them, and knowing how much the memories of an experience will mean. xox


Bruce May 9, 2012 at 7:44 am

Thank you, Lindsey, for being kindred across transoms, through veils of tears and gratitude as we all make our way all to each other in the Love of the eternal right now. XOX to you and yours as well


Laurie May 9, 2012 at 8:17 am

A few years behind you in the parent train. Gentle tears of joy for this wonderful passage. Thank you Bruce.


Bruce May 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for being a loving spirit on the trail, Laurie. And Happy Mother’s Day too


BigLittleWolf May 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

This is quite beautiful, Bruce. And as you know, I’ve gone through it twice – and not so long ago. That “melancholy between launching and separation” as you so eloquently phrase it.

Like you, I didn’t go through Prom myself, so it was fascinating to be part of the process as a parent and see (even for the boys) the detail, the determination, the fretting that is involved – not to mention the money!

Yet seeing them enjoy the entire process is joyful, though it leaves us sentimental.

A passage? Yes. And more ahead, always. If we’re lucky, that is.


Bruce May 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Yes, BLW, I find much solace in voices like yours who have blazed the trail and lived to love and speak of it. Here’s to luck indeed, and gratitude for you and the moms who make so much possible.


Pamela May 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Bruce this is stunning. I love how gracefully you can let go and in doing so, find such joy and peace. I am there smelling the jasmine and looking at your handsome son and lovely date. And I am in time to 1990 to my own prom and the smell of honeysuckle, and squeezing into an old Vw bug. Thank you for showing me how to let go. I am just so grabby!!


Bruce May 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Maybe by holding onto each other (particularly Andy on my count) we grown-ups steady ourselves enough to be able to let go. What I learn as I go is that it’s all a process, with nothing happening all at once (at least emotionally) and yet all unfolding more or less along the dictates of nature, sometimes cruel but often kind… hopefully in the end we’re all in the same ocean of Love. Here’s to honeysuckle on Mother’s Day


Mandy May 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I am sitting here bawling after reading your post. You are right; life goes by quickly and we are often opening one door and closing the next. But during those times, we can’t miss out on the beauty of now. Great post!


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Mandy, It’s so lovely to have company in these waters of strong feelings, gratitude and bittersweet melancholy and joy in the ephemeral and yet eternal flux that is, at root, loving. Thanks for the kind words too.


Beth May 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

This brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful.
(And wonderful photos! I can’t believe Nate is so grown up. I remember Andy and you pushing him in his stroller – and now there he stands with his beautiful date, towering over everyone!)


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi Beth, Thank you for sharing both your words and feelings, and also junctures of our lives together that pulse sacred and fleeting as we look back at them—suffusing today with new-found preciousness. XO


Beth May 10, 2012 at 5:41 am

PS – Please tell Nate: Great tie!


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

For sure!


Mark May 10, 2012 at 5:54 am

Nice work, Doc. An important milestone and rite of passage. In the immortal words of Napoleon Dynamite, Nate’s developmental trajectory looks… Sweet.


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

In sixth grade Nate played Napoleon Dynamite in the school production and nailed it hilariously. Sweet indeed, and Thanks much, Mark


TheKitchenWitch May 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

This was lovely and so bittersweet! I can see so much of you in your son’s face! They look great!


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Thanks KW, It’s so nice to have friends like you to commune with through these gates of change. Hope for all sorts of good traverses for you and yours as well. XO


Wolf Pascoe May 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm

“It is the coming and the going, the reaping and the sowing; it is the mirror on pins and needles, it is the just sewing; it is the scent of jasmine in the night, the feel of air soft on our soft skin, the stubble on a chin, the fizz evervescsently floating over vanished gin….”

Just wanted to read this again and again.
So well captured. Thank you.


Bruce May 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Thank you, Wolf—for your friendship and your kindness. Cheers to the Maker by which we see.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri May 23, 2012 at 8:00 am

Such love and reverence in this post. I can imagine your son reading these words sometime in the future and really sensing the adoration and love from you.


Bruce May 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm

We just want to wrap all our kids in that adoration and love, don’t we.


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