When I was a senior in high school, a few months before graduating and having been accepted at the college of my choice, there was a bonfire. Probably for a football game or some such thing...the specifics I don't remember. What I remember is meeting a guy who rode a motorcycle and, for whatever reason, appealed to me. I may have been a wild child, but in high school I was still naive and still virginal territory. This guy, whom I can't remember his name or even what he looked like, began calling me. He told me that he and a friend of his were leaving for Wyoming and/or Montana right after I graduated on their motorcycles, and wanted me to go with them. With every fiber of my 17 year old being, I not only wanted to go, but I was determined to go. It had nothing to do with the young man, it was the adventure...you could say the London experience. That is what my Charlie is experiencing and I can relate, because I've gone through it. You see, Charlie is so very much my child.
Charlie has recently, in the last month, decided that he, too, wants to see this country of ours...on foot. He's preparing himself; he's mapping out his journey, he's deciding what he needs to take with him and what he can leave behind. This child of mine is cut from the same cloth that I am. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the desire...the strong pull, of adventure. I still feel the pull.
What I also remember is my mother telling me that if I decided to go on this 'adventure', that she and my father would not pay for my college when I came home. This, alone, persuaded me not to go. Not the tears, not the 'reasoning', not the yelling; only the threat of not being able to attend college in the fall convinced me not to go.
Looking back, I didn't know this person...didn't know these TWO men that I was willing to get on the back of a motorcycle with and take off with only a wave goodbye to the people who loved me. I didn't know, I was a kid. Granted, many my age not only knew more but cared more about their future and their loved ones than I did. I was a selfish and self indulgent teenager. I've grown.
So, back to my baby. Charlie is determined to take off on a 'London' adventure. He, like his mother, is determined to be a writer. With all my heart I want him to succeed, to see his dreams come true and to fulfill every dream his heart leads him toward. Yet, there is that part of my mother in me that is screaming (inwardly) 'what are you thinking??'.
For those of you who remember Jack London, the happy endings are few. Perhaps because London didn't have me for a mother. Perhaps because he sought promises this world couldn't keep. Regardless, all I can do is try to keep Charlie grounded in the reality of this world, as my mother did me, and to love him. The latter is easy, the prior is what parenthood is all about. If nothing else, I excel at parenting. This past weekend I shared with Charlie my story about the bonfire, the young man with a motorcycle and my mother's threats.
History has a way of repeating itself.