Friday, July 31, 2009

Young and at the Fair

(click images for larger view)

The much anticipated Union County Fair arrived the day before yesterday. We used to push the kids around on strollers and shepherd them onto the toddler rides...those days are over. Both kids have become thrill seekers.

Tess leads the way in this domain. (Couple of pics also on the photo blog). Colm is still too short to get on board some of the rides.

Tess did get in over her head on one ride though, the one we used to call The Hammer. She went on by herself (Colm demurred) with absolutely no hesitation. During the ride we could see her shrinking down in her seat as the pendulum swung up and down. The upside down moments scared her. She came out shaken and in need of a morale boost which she got a few seconds later on another ride with equally impressive g-forces but with a more stable horizantal axis.

The scene at the fair is one that Tess studies with great interest. I notice her noticing the teens, especially the boy/girl pairs. The kids and I were sitting on a bench eating a Funnel Cake. The sun had long since gone down and everyone moved in and out of shadows, their faces reflecting the sundry lights festooning food and craft booths. From somewhere behind us came a girl's shrill scream. Even as I jerked my head around I knew the sound to be a playful one. Sure enough, two teens, a boy and a girl were wrestling, she attempting to escape his grasp, him trying to wrap her waist and hold her. She broke loose and the two of them broke out of the shadows into the path in front of our bench. They were like two ponies stampeding through the crowd. It just so happened that Colm had wandered into their path. He somehow escaped getting trampled and a bit unsure of what had just happened, he came right back to me and sat down. Tess observed the teens.
"That's his girlfriend." She said it matter of factly.
But then another girls sprang into view. She grabbed the boy's arm as if to distract him or somehow slow him down. Tess regarded the new arrival.
"No. That's his girlfriend." Again, matter of fact and unbothered by the instant revision.
I didn't question her further. For me it was enough to glimpse the framework inside of which Tess was operating.

There is nothing like an evening at the fair to illuminate the budding of youth, the evanescent dream-like dance whose steps are hard wired into these tanned adolescent arms and legs, the furtive looks, the beguiling eyes, the sly smiles. They pass amongst the rest of us like vampires, as if immune to time, to age, to tomorrow. They are unassailable in their skins, invincible in their ignorance. A pagaent playing out under the noses of people trying to remember, trying to forget, trying to finish something, trying to start something else, trying to relearn what it means to be instinctive again.

Even if it were possible, I would not be that age again.


Tess is something of an amateur teenager right now. Soon enough she will be flitting through the shadows of the county fair, sparking the curious eyes of young lads. What I won't be able to see then will be able to fill a book. So I'm taking notes in advance. Trying anyway.


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