Thursday, December 2, 2010

Always Time to Go

I've been trying to think of the title for a book that I want to write this summer, a travel book. I want to take Fain on a road trip and write about the experiences of meeting people and seeing things, but I could not for the life of me think of a title, which is unusual; that's generally what comes first for me.

The day before yesterday, my friend and co-worker Acker and I were talking about writing, I guess, and he asked if I'd read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm ashamed to say that I haven't. I know the premise, but I just haven't gotten around to it. There are a lot of those books. I read so voraciously as a child and even through college, but as I've reached adulthood, I've fallen off in my reading. Or I might read five chapters and never finish the book. That's usually the case. I have good intentions, but I'm easily distracted.

However, feeling guilty over this lack of Vonnegut in my life, and knowing that I have many friends who would look down on me for this confession, I took the book that he offered me and went back to my classroom and sat down to read for a few minutes.

One line captured my attention. In the first chapter, Vonnegut wrote about stopping by the Hudson River to let the two little girls traveling with him reflect upon it. They'd never seen a river, only the ocean, so they were captivated, but eventually, of course, they had to move on. Somewhere in there, he writes: was time to go, always time to go.

I immediately scribbled this line into my journal, the way that I scribble in weird things that my students say or funny things that my friends say or random and wise things that strangers in malls or used book stores say. And I immediately thought, "This could be the title."

It fit. Traveling with children to see old friends, sure.

However, there are also the many other meanings lodged in the words always time to go. My first thought was the sad one. That's because I'm a mother and my child, my most favorite person in the world, grows each and every day, despite my protests. He is always headed in a direction far away from me, and it's impossible to be a mother and to not be aware of that. Time, like the Hudson, is always going, taking my son along with it, and one day, when I ask him to go with me, he'll say that he can't, and if I'm a good mother, I'll accept that and be happy for him.

My second thought was the more optimistic one. There is always time to go. Time never stops. It is always waiting for us to splash in and enjoy the ride. Time is one of those inner tube rides out in the country that I've passed and considered stopping for and continued on without stopping because I had another engagement, promising myself to come back on a warm summer day. There is always time to enjoy my child now. There is always time to go. Now is the time to go.

Sure. The economy is gray and there are wars and kids are growing up despite the protests of their parents, but right now my kid is still my kid and we have time to enjoy life and life to enjoy, and we shouldn't wait for some more convenient time; we should enjoy it right now. It is always time.

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A Mirror, A Summer, A Street by Autumn Crisp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.