Monday, September 13, 2010

The Service Of Waiting

A large part of being a Theatre Mom involves waiting, finding a place to wait comfortably, trying to get comfortable with being seen waiting, and convincing oneself that the busy work puttered away at while waiting has been a meaningful, productive exercise.

This is not all, however. One must prepare one's home to wait until its inhabitants return: dinner must be thought of, feline bowls refreshed and refilled, waiting lamps lit before hurrying away with all the implements (books, laptop, board games) that could ease the waiting. Upon return, one spends yet more time switching off wait-lights, lighting home-lamps, conversing with felines lest they should imagine themselves abandoned. Then the day needs to be wound up and alarms set to ensure that the waiting appointment on the morrow not be missed.

I am proud to say, I am quite the expert at this. Ask me about waiting spots anywhere in the tri-county area and I can probably point you to the most conveniently placed Panera Bread Company, the nearest Starbucks that plays the muzak most conducive to a Scrabble or Chess game, the neighborhood Barnes and Noble with the best spaced outlets for laptop plug-ins, away from the insulting bustle of the cafe and families rushing about, obviously not waiting.

The most difficult aspect to conquer in this is to get comfortable with being seen waiting. The servers at Panera Bread or French Bakery perambulate around one's chosen seat, with studied casualness or busyness. One must ignore all curious looks and concentrate very hard on pretending to not exist, on being invisible; idlers and loiterers are not kindly thought of. I have an entire wardrobe of clothing that renders me invisible, jeans and t-shirts of indeterminate grey-beige that the eye just skips over without registering any presence. Earrings, lip glosses, interesting handbags are to be avoided at all cost; if one's lips get dry, frequent refills of water in non-decrepit plastic cups are recommended as best recourse. Care must be taken that the books accompanying she-who-waits must be checked out from public libraries, preferably covered in monochromatic bindings or clear plastic that catches the most shy glare from the mutated lighting, magnifying it, making the title indistinguishable and unreadable.This deters conversation. One definitely does not want to converse, lest one be discovered "just waiting" and rendered irretrievably, incurably not-cool.

I will concede, Reader, that had it not been for these waiting hours, I'd not have graded, read, or played Scrabble as much as I have, and for that, I am grateful. There is something liberating about the knowledge that no trips to the grocery store make sense, since it'd be hours before the milk and frozen vegetables would find their way to their shelves in refrigerator & freezer. The public libraries, undoubtedly in pre-meditated malice, are 40 minutes away, making a round trip meaningless. So this section of the day, evening, morning is best resigned to timid waiting.

Don't get me wrong; I do not resent this. The week, hours, chores, obligations that surround this waiting often frustrate me with their insistent, meaningless necessity. The waiting provides me with a promised sanctuary of undisturbed, if forced, reflection, more like an oasis than a stranding. There are times, like today, when I have rushed around, conscious of and looking forward to the waiting promised at the end of the day. I also know that at the end of weeks of waiting, I shall be treated to a really enjoyable performance, with the added bonus of seeing my child in her element, while I get to gasp, giggle, applaud, and congratulate. There can be no greater reward for a parent.

I shall remember when time's winged chariot draws near, and my daughter shall fly away from any need of my waiting. I shall look back on these hours with fondness, and remember that it was not all rushing and busyness, that I cherished the waiting as much as the applause, the drive, the rushed meals, the littered laundry, and backpacks on the floor to trip over, as I ran around and after her.

The greatest service I am doing by waiting, then, is to my future self from whom this waiting shall be taken away. Then, I shall glance upon that inward eye and consider how my light is spent.

1 comment:

  1. You could write poems when you wait in solitariness. Portable poetry!