he & i

Last night I notice that my 14-year-old son has posted a new profile picture on Facebook, where he claims to be a 20-year-old simply to gain access to what he terms an outmoded world.

The photo is from the last day of summer, on which we summited a 14,000 foot peak, climbing up the backside and endangering our lives because I somehow insisted on it.

It was so like me, and the aspect that I believe my child both loves and hates the most about having me as his mother. I couldn’t bear to do the standard route, what others do. And he teased me about it the entire way up, while also acknowledging how absolutely right my choice had been.

Despite moments of resolute doubt.

“Why isn’t anyone else climbing this side?” he wanted to know. He kept edging his way to the sides of cliffs in hopes of spying others.

But it was precisely the isolation I had sought.

I wasn’t the one who wanted to climb a fourteener; he was. But if we were going to do it, it was going to be on my terms.

I’ve a thing or two to teach him yet, if only about who his mother is before her life ends.

Life being, inevitably, such a fucking tentative thing. Or our bond being, as both as blessing and a curse, so enormously tight.

There was this moment, very near the top, when the gusts of wind were so extreme and our bodies were so taxed that he fell to his hands and knees. And just stayed there, like that, an unduly long time.

“Did you black out?” I yelled ahead to him. We had both been checking in with each other about the experience of not having enough oxygen.

He shook his head.

Now that we’re safe, we reenact this moment a fair amount, to each other’s great amusement.

It strikes me that life actually feels this way, a lot of the time.

How are we actually accomplishing the thing that we are? We are a stronger family than most. I sense this and strive to protect what we have, when I’m not pole-positioning for us to risk our lives.

The photo on Facebook is of the two of us, once we had reached the top. He looks so sweet in it, so much younger than he is, in a way.

I, on the other hand, look like a crazed lunatic.

“That face is terrifying, Delilah,” is his attached comment, which tags me.

“That’s just what it’s like, little Django, living on the edge,” goes my response. “This was one of the best days of my life.”


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