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ROCK JOURNEY
June 16, 2004
 
Our car radio thumped its rock music annoyingly to other cars, I felt certain, as we sped toward the bridge with all the windows down. The teenagers were hot and uncomfortable -- our air-conditioning is broken -- and so I yielded gladly to the request for their own music. I remember driving along to loud music in a hot car myself when I was young; I remember that being together and listening to the music made us forget we were uncomfortable. Maybe this would work for the young millenials in my care.

Once every ten minutes I had to switch to the traffic report. "I'm going to have to change the station just for a minute," I would announce, and then I would flip it to AM and listen hard to see what traffic was doing and where it was doing it the worst. When we drove along to loud music in our hot, uncomfortable cars, I remember, AM was all there was.

"Are we there yet?" I couldn't believe that one of them actually said that. "No," I answered, and the others all laughed. I think they were getting into the experience, rising above the heat and the stickiness and the fact that three of them were crowded into the back seat of a VW. We drove by the Cotton Club on 125th Street. Cool. We drove by Columbia -- some silence, there, as they briefly contemplated their unknown future.

They were glad when we reached the cathedral. Our arrival was greeted by one of the cathedral peacocks, his magnificent tail fully arrayed, and the kids piled out of the car and tried to pet the bird. Other peacocks began to pursue them: peacocks are just imposing enough that you don't feel entirely comfortable approaching: a very well-defended animal.

I had a meeting and one appointment. I'll meet you at the convent at 7:45. Be there.

They had dinner somewhere on Broadway and walked to Columbia and back. One of them got his foot-long ponytail cut off and arrived back at the convent looking completely different, carrying his ponytail in a plastic bag. "I'm so hot!" one of them said when they got back, "is there anything to drink?" I pointed them toward the water. I forgot to check and see that they cleaned their glasses and put them away. I fear the worst. If they didn't, I will boil them in oil this afternoon when they get home from school.

They weren't finished when we got home. There was talk of ice cream. I was finished, though. I switched the station as soon as they got out -- a solo viola da gamba. Quiet and very old, in the cooling evening. The young people were far away by now, somewhere bright and loud. I sat in the dark car until the viola da gamba piece was finished, and then put up the windows and went into the house.
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