I’m sitting in a wide wicker chair, throne-like in the way it ensconces me in a sea of pillows. In the chair next to me is my daughter. She works long hours, the TV/film industry standard. The least I can do is pamper her, a pedicure when I visit. This is her turf, L.A., her salon of choice. They give you a menu here, a cornucopia of temptations tailored to price. I’d be a fool now, wouldn’t I, not to at least go for the dharma add-on, a whopping $4.50 extra for a chakra-charged foot massage. My lotion of choice is citrus-scented, with its promise of creativity. Not that I could go wrong with eucalyptus and rosemary (for centering) or rose oil (love and be loved).
There are some things you just never want to come to an end.
My daughter passes a magazine to me, one of the two issues of Vanity Fair she has brought for us. I watch her riffle through hers, pick up mine, begin reading a poignant piece by Christopher Hitchens on the nature of ‘voice.’ I need to know – right now – if this is something I can retrieve online, bookmark and tweet. I reach for my iPhone, a trusted pet tucked in my purse, at my beck and call. Only something happens on the way to satisfying this very immediate need of mine. I glance across the room at a woman getting what would appear to be the royal treatment. A man sits at her feet, massaging them. A woman sits at her side, massaging an arm. That leaves one arm free, for reading a magazine. And this is what stops me.
Why would I want to do anything but luxuriate in this moment, the foot massage more transcendent by the minute? I put down my magazine (and the iPhone), look over at my daughter immersed in hers, no words, just shared experience between us. The flat-screen TV on the wall is playing the best of Mike Myers, the very best, I should say, he in his Linda Richards I’m-verklempt, talk-amongst-yourselves mode. The sound is turned down, proof positive that some things you don’t have to hear to know what’s being said. I lean back in the cushioned chair, sink into what I do hear, Bob Seger, Against the Wind. The magic fingers of the woman massaging my foot dig deeper. Bob Seger gives way to Toni Braxton putting me in a trance. I may truly never breathe again.
My mother, if she could see me now, would be smiling, her way of reminding me that nurturing takes many forms and the shift from dependence to independence, with its seismic rumblings, is a two-way struggle. A week earlier, driving down a road near my house on the opposite end of the country, I stopped for a deer and the very small fawn following her. The mother made it up the rock wall, no problem. Her fawn stumbled, turned to look at me staring at her from my car. I’ve seen deer, many of them, with and without their young. I’ve seen the young without a parent. I’ve never heard one cry, and my temptation to get out of the car, help her up the rock wall, was tempered only by good sense and the trust that mama deer, only a few paces ahead, would be back the moment I disappeared.
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