It was even colder this morning when I bundled my 9 year old bundle of joy into the car to go to school, the temperature gauge standing at 20 degrees. As is the usual way, we talked on the way to school about the coming day, things we would try to do better and what would happen later in the day (today I would be joining him for lunch).
With a cheery wave, he got out of the car and headed in to the warmth of the school halls, and I pulled out of the school driveway heading for home to put on my face before going to work.
We have an odd intersection with a crossing guard. He has to see children safely across two intersections, so when he stops traffic, it stops for a while. Today, I got stopped and as I sat there, I realized how deafening the silence was with no boy chattering next to me.
Without thinking, my hand reached out and turned on the radio - and suddenly, I wasn't at the intersection anymore. I was in the gym at Leon High. It was 1978 and Daphne P. was trying to teach me how to "Do the Hustle". Everyone else in gym class got it, but I was absolutely hopeless. The only dances I ever mastered were the waltz, the cha-cha-cha and (no snickering!) the Polka. The hustle was quite simply beyond my limited physical abilities and coordination.
Luckily, I returned to my car seat before the last kid crossed, but hearing "Do the Hustle" on the radio was just the beginning of my blast into the past.
All day long, flashes of the high school years would strike out of the blue like an unpredictable thunderstorm. I spotted a girl wearing bell-bottoms. Not the giant bells we wore, but enough. There's a guy I've seen around town that I could swear was my first crush (coincidentally Daphne P's brother) also time-traveling, as he looked exactly the same as he did in high school, down to the sideburns, hair and clothes. If I stopped to talk to him, I'd probably be arrested because he really is a teenaged boy, this mystery guy. And he's definitely NOT my first crush.
I'd promised ZBoy that I'd bring him lunch, and I was in the mood for gyros, so I went to the mall on my way to school to buy lunch. I parked my uber-suave Subaru in the lot and proceeded, professional Mommy person that I am towards the door at a good pace. Only to be zapped back in time again to the same era. This time, I was jogging across Tennessee Street to the old Dragon Room Chinese restaurant a block up from the high school. They had a carry out window and once a week, I would indulge in two eggrolls and a coke for lunch. The smell of eggrolls wafting out from the food court had snatched me back in time. A tall metro-sexual guy was walking past me when his phone rang and bam! Back in 2009.
I have been puzzling over the why of it. Why today? Why that particular time in my life?
I think I finally figured it out. It's the jogging. The plans for a marathon in two years.
Have I ever mentioned that I was once a sullen teenager who did contrary things just for the hell of it? NO? Well, surprise, surprise! I was!
And the incident that keeps coming back to me now was gym class. It was cold and my friend Kathy had broken her foot. For some odd reason, I thought that entitled me to sit in the bleachers with her and watch everyone else run a lap around the track. The class had gotten about halfway around when HoneyBee (the coach) appeared to inform me otherwise.
I was pissed. I got down to the track and started running. The more I ran, the more pissed I got. I caught up with those kids. Then I passed my class. And I beat them all in. Somewhere, as I was passing my class, those endorphins kicked in and I felt better than I'd ever felt in my whole life. I crossed the finish line and HoneyBee came over and slapped my back and said, "That was amazing! Aren't you glad I made you run?" I think I growled at her.
And I never ran again.
How stupid was I?
It only took me 30 years to get it. But I've got it now, and HoneyBee? Perhaps you'll cheer me on from heaven this time. I promise I won't growl at you when it's over.
In the meantime, maybe I should learn how to do the hustle?