Ray stood at the kitchen counter last night prepping a night-time snack. I caught a glimpse of his profile. He recently had his hair cut. "What happened to my babies?"...He looked sideways at me and smiled while thoughts, memories really, flashed through my mind. A picture of a blonde little boy with fat rosy cheeks, his toddler days, his days in pre-school at the Audrey Rose Webb school. His grade-school years and triple E. The high school award ceremonies. The boy scouts. Football. Soccer. And now he stands, on the cusp of adult-hood. A little over a week until graduation.
The sign in front of the house has a "sold" rider in bright red on the top of it. The past few days have been spent driving in a car, filling out multiple forms for rental companies, and calling, asking, looking. Two rentals were in the same building. I arrived shortly after Heidi, the realtor/property manager arrived. She opened the trunk of her car and dug into a tackle box. A massive set of keys with the little round placards on them were extracted. We walked into the building talking. You could tell it had at one time been nice. Built in the seventies (my guess) the entry way is broad with a shallow set of steps. The carpet is dark with traces of dirt and white pet hair and small bits of paper. A chair sits near an apartment door with an ash-try at its foot, it is full, the contents spilling out. We walk side-by-side up the broad steps to the second floor. The glass fronted building allows light in. A small dried wreath of flowers hangs on the wall. The door is worn. We enter and the apartment is small, filled with light, with a fireplace, a slider and a small off-set kitchen. The floor plan is "open". The pantry is huge. A short hall is off this main room. The one bath is at the end of the hall, two small bedrooms lead into the hall from either side. There are no walk-in closets. No lights which turn on automatically when you open the closet doors. No ceramic tile. No berber carpet. No hardwoods. No jetted tub. No 'garden room'. No office. No huge storage space. It smells slightly musty. I think of the cats. "Do you have one on the main floor?"..."Sure" she says. She is young, probably in her late twenties, early thirties. She has found her niche market. She does a good job, is patient, enjoys talking. We survey the first floor space. Same as the second but with a patio. Someone has laid a few flagstones, planted a few plants. A pile of wood sits to the side. "The fireplaces have been inspected and are good for use," she tells me, adding, "You can plant what you like, go crazy if you want.".."Fantastic!" pause, "Do you have anything in a duplex.".."Sure." she says and we drive across town. She thinks of calling me, "Hey Ruth, there's your boyfriend." and laughing, when a group of rough looking guys pulls up next to her car. I am driving behind her. We arrive on Hardin and inspect a new property, two bedrooms, two baths, spacious. I like it, but it doesn't "strike" me. "I'm leaning towards #4." Which means the old building with a guy drinking a beer at ten thirty in the morning. She hands me the paperwork which will be filled out along with a twenty-five dollar check for processing.
Yet earlier, before "house" hunting. Sitting on Ray's bed while he worked on the computer, asking him this and that and the other. Being nosy which is a mother's prerogative. "What are your plans for this next year?"..."To move out and find my own place and work."