The Boy is sad. Remember M, his best friend? They won't be in the same class together this year.
When he saw the class posting, he ran over to the edge of the sidewalk and sat down, in that hunched-up-boy ball that kids make of themselves, as though they can curl up against hurting. What I want to do is to forcibly uncurl the kid, with words or actions. What I do instead is sit next to him for a minute, silently, rubbing his back. Later, in the car, I'll tell him about my best friend when I was his age, Beth Williams (Beth Williams, where for art thou? I miss you, Beth Williams), who lived up the alley from us. I'll tell him that we weren't in school together or even in the same grade, but we were still best friends and we spent all our time outside of school together. And I made other friends in school, and it all worked out okay. I'll tell him that when I first met his Aunt Chica, I was sure she didn't like me, so sometimes making new friends takes time but who knows what can happen? But right now, I have to fight the urge to curl up in a little ball next to him, a mammoth rolypoly repeating a little mantra in my head: My boy will be happy. My boy will be happy. My boy will be happy.
I've always tended toward the melancholy, I think. I am Phlegm Girl. What did they do for melancholy in the middle ages, I can't remember? Hot coals, wasn't it? Leeches for too much anger, hot coals for too much sadness. I'm trying to stop with the hot coals these days. I'm trying to stop with the vodka or the ice cream or the whatever it is I bury my nose in; but I'm also trying to stop with the rolling around in my sadness until I'm all covered and stinking with it. It's not as deadly as you might think, to be sad, nor as permanent.
I've been thinking, that a lot of the Boy's anger is what he uses to cover up sadness. The Anger Bone's connected to the Sadness Bone, the Sadness Bone's connected to the Fear Bone... I've been thinking that maybe it's time to quit trying to figure out what's wrong all the time, stop trying to fix the sadness or push against it or bury it, and instead gently, gently see whether I can tell what's beyond it, what's inside it, and maybe help him to do the same.
I've been thinking, oddly, that I'm really very happy.