For eight weeks I found myself lingering for moments longer than I cared for in the foyer of the Performing Arts Complex where my daughter was enrolled in summer camp. The foyer was rather drab with it's grey industrial carpeting and tattered modern styled lounge seating, but starkly contrasted with small cases displaying beautiful hand made creations. Of course the cases were made of large sheets of glass that GL loved to bang on, leaving my nerves on edge every time she made the approach.
During those idle moments I found myself observing the interactions of other parents around me. I suppose with a degree in Cultural Anthropology my intrinsic nature is to observe others, taking mental notes of interactions by the familiar strangers that surrounded me week after week. My curiosity was sparked on more than one occasion by the subtleties in the nuances of two friendly parents.
The parents clearly knew each other for their children happily played together and walked hand in hand into the building. The mom, Jane, always seemed worn out. During close to nearly every visit, she would plop herself down on the floor changing her youngest of four children. Jane was fit and very pretty, but her body language often reflected the toll being a mother of four can take on anyone. Her children were always strewn about, climbing on the art installations, running unobserved down the halls, licking the water fountains, jumping to make the automatic doors open and close over and over.
Her friend, John, was energetically her opposite. He on the other hand was one of those dads, happily tossing his youngest daughter up in the air, while his legs provided the pony ride for his oldest daughter. John was one of the few fathers I saw during my eight week trips to the Arts Center. I never concluded if John stayed home with his kids, but he certainly enjoyed his time with them.
Jane's eyes always lit up when John entered the lobby. On more than one occasion he brought along her favorite drink from the Starbuck's drive through. John seemed to be a lifeline for Jane, who apparently was worn thin lately. The moments that I often called into question between them always seemed to occur in the parking lot. It maybe was a longer than intended hug, the passing of a card, or a subtle kiss on the cheek. John would always be carrying one of Jane's children on his shoulders as she had all she could do to manage one at a time.
For some odd reason the feeling I gathered was one of Hollywood proportions. The one captured in Little Children between Kate Winslet's character Sarah and the Prom King played by Patrick Wilson. If you've read the book or watched the film, you know how that one ended after the much heated love affair between the stay at home parents.
I occasionally still wonder about John and Jane. I wonder if I my imagination was completely off the mark or if my observations of subtleties were right on. John and Jane the characters created in my head with one part observation and one part imagination.