As we drove home from dinner last night in the autumn darkness I noticed something on the windshield through the sleet – little circles that caught the light from the oncoming traffic. This morning I glanced over and confirmed it – five prints on the windshield, large to small, a perfect print of W.’s right toes. On Mondays while we wait for A. to come out of guitar lessons, he often slips his feet out of his shoes and socks and puts his feet up on the dash, wiggling his toes and grinning up at me mischievously.
There is something terribly pleasing about putting your feet up in front of you when you ride in a car or train; I used to do it every morning and evening on the Commuter Rail from Cambridge to Concord, tucking my long skirt underneath me and wedging myself between the seats, my knees up on the one in front of me. I now know that this designates me as “sensory seeking,” a person who seeks direct pressure from physical contact – heavy blankets, warm sweaters, snug turtle necks, bear hugs. But is has to be just right and it has to be my idea or I become instantly claustrophobic. This is where I find W. truly astounding, because even at fourteen he can climb on my lap and it is no more burdensome than holding a baby. Even though I cannot let him stay there (for a multitude of reasons) it amazes me that he can totally get away with invading personal space and can position his body in a way that minimizes the impact of his weight. Maybe we are sensory seeking in just the same way; we attract like magnets, quickly closing the space between us.