thoughts on my son's visit home, and this city we share

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Now that our son is out on his own—a transplanted Manhattanite, a guy with an intense new-media career and plenty of stories to tell—these four Thanksgiving days are the days I most live for. Our longest stretch with him this near. Our longest walks. Our longest conversations. The thorough peace of waking up and thinking: He's just down the hall.

I arranged my motherhood so that I would have few motherhood regrets (regrets as I defined them, for we can only ever define our own regrets)—hoped myself toward a freelance career that would spark to life when my son was at school or slept, stayed off the traveling writers' circuit, patchworked my existence. If I've sometimes felt invisible out there in the world, I've felt seen here, in this two-bedroom house, and these past few days especially I've felt more like my authentic, true-purpose self than I have since, well, last Thanksgiving.

We discovered a new trail together. We lit a candle at our table. We asked ourselves that enduring question: How do we continue to become the person we'd most like to be? And for an hour yesterday I opened my laptop and read pages from a book now very much in progress. My son is the best listener I'll ever have, the one who gets every nuance and bend of the real life I plumb into the depths of my fiction. The one who says, Okay, but let me ask you a question, and, Do you know a real-life Matias? and, Is Uncle Davy modeled on your Uncle Danny, and Yes. I see it. This could be your movie.

Last night, late, my son sat at the table and read this story in this weekend's Philadelphia Inquirer. It's the story I'd written about the Philadelphians I've lately met in my Love: A Philadelphia Affair travels. The people whose stories make our city what it is. I watched him read. I watched him nod. I saw him smile. Because my son may be living the NYC life right now, but he still considers Philadelphia home. This place we share and always will—no matter where he is, no matter what he's doing, no matter the miles between us.

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