Part IV: Standing at the gate, waiting for Mama.
We got settled into our new home within three days. Mama’s really determined about these sorts of things. She likes to have balance — complete and total Zen. We decorated my room exactly the way I had it back in Summerville. Thankfully, the space is about the same. Our kitchen is my favorite place to be. We have an open layout (as the adults call it) with a bay window. There’s plenty of bright sunshine poppin’ on through. There’s also an extended sill wide enough for me to sit on and read. I’ve spent every morning here since we moved in.
Mama begins work today and I have four more days of summer vacation before school starts. I went with her yesterday to get her keys, name tag, employee packet, and code for the alarm. This boutique isn’t anything like Mama’s shop back home. There’s this huge brick space with a teal or some kinda greenish-blue gate and anyone visiting has to be buzzed in. I asked Mama, “How in the world are customers supposed to come shop if they need permission?” She shrugged her shoulders. I’m almost certain she was thinking the same thing.
I am sitting in the bay window listening to the news as it plays in the background. Mama likes to catch up on the weather, the latest events, and traffic updates as she cooks breakfast. This morning, she offered a request — I choose blueberry pancakes and chocolate milk. Daddy’s been getting himself ready to work another ten hours down at the Statesboro, Georgia branch of Viracon, Inc. He left Amtrak when I was about four years old. His career path took a turn to the administrative side. He’s a Human Resources Coordinator by day and a “man with a plan” by night.
Daddy has this wild dream of owning his own tobacco & things shop. One thing he’s extremely focused on is making and selling unique smoking pipes and other tools used for smoking tobacco. This is the part Mama hates . . .
“Paulie, I don’t see why you have to make things that help kill people. Can’t you put that genius mind of yours to work towards something else?”
I just shrug my shoulders every time I hear this argument from Mama. Daddy’s got a dream. I hope he sees it through. Who knows? Maybe his pipes will become the most purchased pipes this side of Georgia or even bigger — nationwide! That’s what I see for my daddy. That’s what I hope for — I know he does too.
It is another blazing hot summer day. Sunshine kisses every inch of my skin and I have drunk at least a gallon of water already. It’s not even 10:30 in the morning. Mama typically works from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week and on Saturday, she works 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There are clouds bulging up in the sky. Maybe we’ll get some rain today. Today is Saturday and to save on gas, Daddy drops Mama off to work and picks her up when she’s done. I tag along.
We get to the big brick boutique with the teal or some kinda greenish-blue gate and Daddy presses the numbers “1, 7, 2” on the call-box and instantly, Mama’s voice comes through the speaker. “I’ll be right out, Paulie.” He smiles down at me and we wait. And we wait. And we wait some more. Mama is running behind and this bothers Daddy. He looks at his watch and shouts to the air, “12:50 p.m. What is that woman doing?!” He presses the numbers to the call-box again and Mama’s voice comes piercing through. “Paulie, if you push this call-box one more time, it’s going to be me and you! I’ll be out shortly!”
I step away from Daddy and sit down on the bench. Mama means business sometimes and I don’t want to be in that line of fire when she comes high-tailin’ it outta the boutique’s door. Shortly after I’m seated, here comes Mama.
“What is wrong with you?! It’s my first week! Surely, you must understand I’ll have to stay around a bit after at least once or twice, Paulie!” Daddy stares at Mama, taps his hand on his right pants leg, and shyly comments . . . “I know, baby. I apologize. I was just missing you is all.” He plants a huge kiss on Mama’s cheek and takes her bags from her with one hand and places his other hand in hers.
Yuck! The two of them need a room! I think this. I do not say it. We pile up in Daddy’s truck and the first thing he says is, “I’m hungry. Who’s hungry? Anyone want some Vandy’s Bar-B-Q?” I lick my lips as I hear his offer and shout excitedly . . .“I SURE DO!” I look at Mama and she smiles while mouthing, “Yes” and we head Downtown for lunch that’s sure to make our mouths and bellies happy.
After lunch, the rest of the weekend awaits us. I come up with little games and indoor fun to keep busy. It’s too hot to go outside and play. Our closest neighbors are about a mile up the road, so I sure ain’t trekkin’ that far to see if they have any children. I’m certain I’ll make some new friends when school begins next Wednesday and I’ll get plenty of time to play with or get to know many of them during P.E. At least, I hope so.
I think about Mama and how her days go at the brick boutique. She doesn’t seem happy and I want her to be. I know Daddy wants her to be happy, too. It must feel like the world has come tumbling down on you when the place you spend most of your time looks like some sorta prison. Again, I think this. I do not say it. I just sit with it for a while and let it keep me company.