Here are our New Digs, welcome. The space is one-third the size of the old place and across the hall from my bedroom I can see Ray's face illuminated by his computer screen. His graduation was nice. There was no party. Chuck, fortunately, got off work where I picked him up. He was waiting in the south side Sub Shop, Ghandi Sauce stood behind the counter having come in to relieve Chuck of his shift.
We (Chuck and I) drove to the new arena and parked in the low lot behind the stadium, it was a Chuck-suggestion and a very fine one at that. We trekked up the hill, walking behind an overweight woman who was smoking yet holding her own as far as pace was concerned. Her hair was coiffed, nails manicured and long, her feet tiny and in heels. She was talking to the man walking beside her, her high heels clicking on the pavement. Puff, puff and a stream of smoke would blow back towards us. How did she do it?
Security stood sentry as people streamed into the arena. Bags and purses were checked for contraband. The crowd was as large as any game-day, the parking lots were full.
Unable to find a chair on the lower level we climbed to the second tier, then third. "On the left hand side facing the stage." Ray told me prior to the ceremony and we should have been there an hour earlier but instead....So when Ray walked in (he sat in the front row), he was looking up into the audience and I was yelling "Ray, Ray!!!" like a fool. Then later when they were calling for the honors graduates to stand up, Ray stayed sitting. "Ray won't stand." Chuck told me. And he didn't.
Five hundred and sixty students graduated from Rockbridge this year, including four valedictorians and the tennis team stood for their recent tourney win. During the ceremony, kids in the center and back seats of the graduating class surreptitiously blew up beach balls and smacked them around amongst themselves while we in the stands laughed and cheered as teachers, counselors and others chased after the balls until they were caught. The crowd would boo good-naturedly and the ceremonies would be suspended for a time. As usual, people yelled and hollered for their graduates and then automatically laughed after as if in relief. Every time someone would cheer a graduate across the stage there would be an immediate burst of laughter which followed from the same cheerers. I know. I was one of them. "Mom. You're one of the embarrassing parents." Chuck told me, smiling...But of course. Another child successfully completed high school...
Following the ceremony Chuck and I stood around outside the Mizzou Arena craning our necks with hundreds, perhaps, thousands of others, all waiting for their graduates, not wanting to miss them. Ray walked towards us, having seen me waving like a mad-woman, his shy smile and sideways glance. We took picutres. His dad didn't go to the ceremony. "I don't think dad likes to get out in public much these days." One of the boys said afterward as we walked down the hill toward the car and thankfully missed the traffic.
We drove downtown to Sparky's and Ray removed his tie and loosened up his top buttons before walking in and ordering ice cream. We each ordered our favorites and returned to the car, driving Chuck back to the southside Sub Shop where he treated us to a sub and Ray played on the pin-ball machine. It was nice, low-key. Then Ray was on the phone making plans to go to the all-night senior party at the Hearnes Center, and Chuck was headed out to another party.
But that was Saturday. Friday the fourth of June was warm and dry and I had been working all night until seven-thirty in the morning and drove from work to our house on Clover Way, changing clothes before driving to the U-haul store to pick up the truck. Twenty-four feet in length, rented for the day.
Ray had been at his dad's house and Dylan was home but not feeling well, staying in bed with dark circles under his eyes. He vacated the bed prior to it being dismantled and moved downstairs, which I did while waiting for Ray. Ray came home around one following a lunch out with his dad. Chuck also dropped by but had to return to work. Ray and I loaded up the entire contents (all of the large furniture) and moved it on our own, the truck was full. Chuck helped a bit, as did Dylan. But the brunt of the work fell to the graduate and myself. Encouraging words were spoken, "Almost there, just a few things more..the washer, the dryer and four mattresses.." We finished up after five; were hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. Ray looked pale and complained of a pain in the center of his chest. We were standing under the tree in the front of the new place. "Get in the truck and turn on the a.c." I told him, which he did. (Those large trucks blow a mean gust of cold.) We then drove back to the U-haul store, stopping at a gas station and nearly taking out a few cars and a pump. I gave Ray cash to buy gatorade which he promptly did. His color was improving. "You feeling better?".."Yeah." he said and leaned back into the seat as I carefully backed the monster out from beside the pump--to pull forward would have meant taking out a corner of the building.
We arrived at the store after running over only two curbs. "Twelve miles total", the girl behind the counter said and rang us out, returning to me eighteen dollars which I promptly pocketed. Ray was sitting in the Prius with the air on, waiting for me, drinking on his gatorade. His color was better. He was comfortable. I had been awake for thirty-six hours by this time and drove over to the new house where everything was piled into the living room with random mattresses leaning against the hall walls. The washer and dryer were in place and Ming was finishing up the painting, we exchanged pleasantries and talked a bit. Ray, now recovered, got into his dad's truck (the red Yukon), thanked me for the cash payment, "You don't have to do that mom.." and pulled away from the curb.
The sun was beginning to set as I drove back to the old place, put a dvd in the downstairs telly and promptly fell asleep on the couch.