Once I lived across the street from a single mom with a son about seven or eight years old. He was a quiet boy, polite and shy. Occasionally his mom would call to ask if he could stay at my house if she had to work late. He liked graham crackers and milk and playing with the dog. Sometimes I would see him sitting on his front steps with a small suitcase. He was waiting for his dad to come and take him for the weekend. More than once I saw him there as I left to run some errand and saw him there again when I returned. He would wait there, watching the street, looking toward the corner where his dad’s car would appear. When too much time had passed he would pick up the suitcase and go back inside. Once I asked him as I was passing how he was doing. He must have thought I said what instead of how because he answered “Just watching and waiting”. It broke my heart.
We’ve all done that; watching and waiting. Maybe a teenager out later than expected. Sitting by the window hoping for car lights to turn into the drive way instead of passing by, hoping they are just late, not hurt or in trouble. Or maybe a better kind of watching and waiting like at the airport where your grandchildren will be arriving for a visit or watching for the mailman to deliver a college acceptance letter.
Even minor watching and waiting can get on one’s nerves, like watching the hands of a clock ever so slowly inch toward the time for an event, or just for the end of a work day. I let myself get irritated when dinner in the oven is not getting done fast enough. There I am pacing about the kitchen and peeking through the glass oven door to see if the meat thermometer has reached a point that will save us from food poisoning. The most aggravating for me is waiting for what seems to be an unreasonable amount of time for an appointment with a doctor. I guess that’s why they call that collection of uncomfortable chairs with a television tuned to something mundane a waiting room.
Right now I am watching the end of a rerun on television waiting for the late news so I can see the weather forecast to plan my day tomorrow. I am about to give up and just adjust to whatever comes with the morning. Feeling sleepy.