I've always loved that line from Steve Earle's Week of Living Dangerously. And that's kinda what Owen did, as he explained it, he just went straight instead of going right. Straight past the high school, on to West Side Park, to downtown Champaign. I got the phone call from the attendance office around noon and nonchalantly  listened to the message start…after all I knew he'd been running late that morning. Then they said he'd been absent period 1, period 2, period 3…. I sighed. I texted him. I called him. Ernie was PISSED. I was resigned. He hadn't wanted to go to school on Friday…begged to stay home and get caught up on homework. I said no, you gotta fucking go to school.


The thing is, I understand so well. I know JUST how he felt as he walked away from the school. 

He finally called me back, sounding pretty quiet. He said he was walking home. Ernie had calmed down so I convinced to go pick up Owen with me. We found him trudging home along a slushy Church Street, with a bag of records dangling from his hand. He'd ended up at Record Swap. He even bought me a Pete Shelley 12 inch. He'd gone to Pekara and had a cookie, and ran into our friend Bonnie. He said he sat there awhile, finished Of Mice and Men, and started Travels with Charley. Steinbeck and a cookie. Not a bad combination.

I asked him how the end of Of Mice and Men Was. He said it was heartbreaking. I asked him how Travels with Charley was and he said he liked it. I asked how the cookie was and he said it was ok. He wasn't really hungry but felt he should buy something. He said he'd never thought he'd be the kind of guy who'd sit in a coffeeshop and read.

We had to go pick up Leo from Parkland and get him to his job so we drove around a bit. I didn't yell at Owen because it wouldn't accomplish anything. I did just say, "Honey, you gotta go to school." He said, "I know." We stopped at an antique mall and chatted as we all wandered around. We picked up Leo and sped him to work. Then we went to lunch at Bunnies. Got to see our beloved Amy, and Mark too. 

Oh, and he said he was surprised I'd gotten a call from the attendance office as he had called in, saying he had a family emergency. I told him I didn't think he could call in for himself, that you had to be a parent or guardian. He said, "Well, it worked last time you were out of town."

I love that child so.

I just love him so damned much.

picture by Duncan Starks



3 thoughts on “And I Guess I Took a Left Where I Generally Take a Right

  1. Eloise better not meet Owen until she’s out of college. We have similar battles around here about going to school. You and Ernie are such good parents for staying even and loving.

  2. Oh, I love it. He’s obviously a good and delightful kid, even if he skipped school. Sometimes you just have to skip school so that you can actually learn something, I guess.

  3. I knew they were special souls when they were teeny-tiny little things. I’m gladdened but not at all surprised to see they’ve only improved with age. After all, they hail from pretty amazing stock.