This is a response to a prompt about “going home”, and I roamed through the past and found this moment. I hope you enjoy it.
“Mom,” a call from the back of the van. “How long do you think it will be before we are home?” This amidst teenage girl chatter and The Spice girls singing “Wannabe”.
“Well,” I reply, “I’m guessing two and a half hours.” Generalized groans from the girls, who are quickly back chattering about things that matter: “Did you see Jesse and Kara together at the dance…EEWWW. And Lynn’s friend, Mel, was, like all over John…and his girlfriend was at a tournament in Barrie!! That is soooo not okay… Hey are you going to Marsha’s on Thursday?… My biology lab results are not right…who has Mr. B for Bio?” and so on and so forth.
To our west is Lake Nipissing, and the evening approaches. As the girls chatter, I reflect upon the day. We left the high school around noon in order to make it to Sturgeon Falls for a one off game. These Grade Eleven girls have been playing together since they were in Grade Seven. They are a team. Not just because they play together as one, but because of their time together they are all friends, even if they spread out into different groups back at school. Our foreign student from Luxembourg has furrows in her forehead; the chatter is so fast and so colloquial that despite her gift for languages, she is missing a lot.
I have an underlying winter chill. Sturgeon Falls does not yet have a Tim Hortons and as a result my stomach growls; there will be no food until we reach North Bay.
The girls had a good game, as always: lots of team communication and sharing and passing. Their coach, George, has taught them well, despite the odd toss of his clipboard and impatient, “Girls, what are you doing? What play are you supposed to be running?” It is all part of that rite of passage that is high school. But, when you live in a one high school town, you travel a lot, and to preserve costs, parents must help. It has been a long day of being largely the ignored taxi driver…can’t get no respect, nor tips! Oh, but I don’t mind…they are great kids, and I can see them changing and preparing for university. With the exception of one or two players, they are all honour students. They are alternately loving high school and hating being held back at the same time. I won’t be driving this group for too much longer. They are leaving me behind.
On my right, the sky above Lake Nipissing is displaying sunset’s finest colours: purple, fuchsia, pale pink and orange. It is stunning, breathtakingly beautiful. I observe the rules of the road, but this colourful display is suddenly calling to me.
I stop the van and shout: “Girls, out…check out this sky!!” They come pouring out, shaking off potato chip crumbs. They, too, are struck dumb, at least for a few minutes. We stand in the winter chill and take it all in, the prize of the day.
“Vicky,” one of the girls says, “thanks so much. This is great.” The exchange student is aglow with the size of the lake and the sky.
“Okay,” I say, “let’s get to North Bay where we can eat!!”
“That would be great,” they reply. “Thanks for driving us, Vicky.”
“No problem,” I reply. Respect found; team good; sky a bonus.
“All I really want, all I really really want…I wanna ha, I wanna ha, I wanna zigggazighaa!”