It was flurries and bits of crystalline snowflakes on my coat and Charlie’s fish-fleece hat when we went for a walk to the train station this afternoon. We were a block and a half from our house when I saw Charlie’s bare hands and remembered where his gloves were in his room. The rest of him was quite obscured, between the hat and a down coat, Size Large.
If this week began with a wrenching day of anger and ache, and yesterday was better but still bumpy, today had a kind of easy flow. Charlie woke up on his own at 7.30am (yes, the melatonin continues is helping him to sleep) and had another good day at school. He waited in the driveway while I got my coat. Charlie walked on the sidewalk’s edge, his body barely swaying to balance himself, warbling with some melody. A black dog barked and Charlie glanced over, then ran up the steps to the train platform. On the way back, he skipped and raced ahead of me.
I still hold Charlie’s hand when we’re in crowded public places—the subway—or on a busy city street. But not on these walks, and not in the grocery store: I can never be 100% sure and always have to keep ears and eyes open, but over the past year Charlie makes his forays away from me, and then comes back, or stops to tilt his head and look out of the corner of his eyes for me. It’s as if he has a sort of homing instinct: You go so far, you go back.
At the store, Charlie held the plastic basket stiffly before him, one metal handle in each hand. He paused before the fish counter; “not tonight,” I said. “Chick-ennn,” said Charlie and peered into the plastic lids of cooked chickens. “If you have some in your lunch, too,” I said. “Sushi!” Charlie chose a pack and then went to examine display of cakes for several minutes, until I quietly told him we had to go; he did.
“Turn on!” Charlie called as he buckled his seatbelt. Besides Jimi Hend-rickss, reggae and ska are high on Charlie’s current list of favorites (Jim’s doing, not mine) and, since last Friday, and I have not been able to find a certain CD. Last night, I made a new one and put it in as I started the car. Charlie sat straight up in his seat as “Sweet and Dandy” came on.
Back at home, I handed him the heavier two grocery bags and he took them, one in each hand, and walked briskly in. Charlie dropped his coat and hat in the center of the living room floor and set his shoes perpendicular to them; he ran downstairs and brought up his blue blanket, an old blue shirt of Jim’s, and a small plush basketball, all of which were arrayed on the carpet in places where they would be likely to be stepped on: This was something Charlie used always to do in our old house, to create a sort of total floor mosaic.
See that, and smell the sushi, and you know you’re in Charlie’s house.