by Rosemary Leach
Adriana is taking big bites out of life. At twenty-three, she is reinventing herself daily. She is a modern gypsy, glowing and articulate about her journey. And I’m still a little dizzy from yesterday’s visit with her.
It felt like an old version of myself turned up for tea.
Jake stirs his porridge. “She’s doing things that are totally dangerous,” he muses.
Summer: Granola with apples, raisins, and walnuts.
Winter: Porridge with apples, raisins and walnuts.
Frankly; it bugs me that that he doesn’t put cinnamon in it.
I pour a little coffee cream in the bottom of my mug, then
reconsider and add a glug.
“But I trust her path somehow. Even if she is cutting her way through a jungle.”
“May-be,” Jake says slowly reaching for a bowl.
It’s not our kid. Our own children seem to follow impossibly conventional schemas, and the distant unfolding of other people’s kids feels unfair.
Our grown children humour me, sometimes notifying me ahead of time in their occasional intent to do something edgy, which they consider part of the curriculum of their youth.
It’s not how I did things.
When I was fourteen, I had a job doing salad prep at a resort, and then signed up for a two-week morning art class that required daily hitchhiking in an area I didn’t know at all.
I would start up conversations in public places. With anyone.
I remember sitting outside the Eaton Centre, chatting up the conservatively dressed and heavily moustached man sitting near me. He replied in halting English. It was the first time in three years of living in Toronto he had actually talked to a Canadian, so naturally I invited him out for coffee, wanting to hear about his time as a political prisoner.
I asked anything.
Like Adriana I had a policy of transparency; until my parents, would give me a hard time. After which all they knew about me was pure fiction, (in retrospect, rather eagerly consumed), and in my young eyes, justly deserved.
My biggest mistake was buying into the feedback that I was errant. I can see now; I was more pining and homeless.
My unarticulated ambition was to be shoulder to shoulder with folks, peeling the onion of life.
“We’re all human. Is there something to hide?”
After tea Adriana is reloading sedan; a real beater which she has spent many nights sleeping in. She is now heading for the coast. Awaiting her is a job pouring coffee.
Though I want to, I don’t hug her goodbye. Covid continues and I have my own nest to protect.
Watching her taillights head slowly down our road, I am hopeful that, as Adriana zig zags across the planet, she is inwardly sorting her experiences, filing them for reference.
“Sensible” is a continuum, from the French ‘sensitive’, stretching a long way over to our anglo meaning, utilitarian and banal. Sensible actions can also pay to have the brakes done on your car.
Adriana will want kids, for sure, and her current experiences might prove a useful background to a future where youngsters are at her door, offering heft rather than advice.
She will intuitively create intimate spaces along the way. An old wooden crate, a silk scarf and a mug of hot tea should cover it.
Starting from the inside out, she’s willing, even keen, to discuss openly the calculations of her learning.
Awkward often, but her currency has gravitas.
Rosemary Leach paints and writes in her studio in Almonte, ON. More paintings and musings at: www.rosemaryleach.com