Teenager’s quiet holding pattern strikes writer

Teenager's quiet holding pattern strikes writer MyStoryYourStory By: Paula Damon The woman closed in on the weekly newspaper at the local library, creeping up on it as though she had been staking it out all week. Accompanied only by her intentional movement toward the paper, she was showing significant signs of wear. Lines from wrangling over whether or not he still loved her after all those years. Wrinkles over worrying about making it until the next paycheck. Creases from pinching back the pain. Seizing it as fodder to feed something down deep that wanted more, she checked the date to be sure it was this weekâ�?�?s paper. While scanning fresh headlines in bold Times New Roman, she appeared mesmerized while taking half steps toward a table and then slowly sank into a hardwood chair. Seconds later, a girl drifted in and sat down next to the woman. The girlâ�?�?s lanky height and build made her out to be 14, give or take a year. The woman? Her mother, I suppose. The girl propped her elbows up on the table and clenched fists pressed into her cheeks, while watching her mother peruse the paper. You see, school had let out the week before and it appeared the girl had already surrendered to summer. In exchange for waiting on teachers and classmates and school bells, she now was waiting on her mother. At the grocery store. In the bank. At the beauty parlor. In the library. What struck me most was her silent almost invisible posture. Most teens I observe are hanging out with their cell phones, IPods and friends to keep them company. They do not look like they are waiting for anything. They do not appear like this girl who remained in an oddly quiet holding pattern. No cell phone. No music. Even more remarkable was that she did not bolt or shudder over having to wait. No whining or rolling of her eyes. No protesting or talking back. All she did was wait and wait and wait. Her reverent resolve held my attention. Standing by, the girl watched as her mother slowly, methodically turned the pages as though discovering treasures. Every now and then with a push of hope, the girl tried to read her motherâ�?�?s face, searching for a sign â�?�? any sign. Looking harder, she squinted like a stargazer attempting to make out Orion or Taurus in the vast unknown of night sky. The womanâ�?�?s expressionless demeanor gave no clues of giving up her long awaited moments with the weekly paper as she peeled back another page. She continued grazing more headlines, now and then pausing to read articles, perhaps they were â�?�?Letters to the Editorâ�? or maybe her favorite column in the â�?�?Opinionâ�? section. The girl looked away, casting blank stares around the small library. Her eyes blinked like a slide projector framing each view: wall-to-wall books with their muted colored jackets and Dewey Decimal labels, gangly philodendrons hanging from the tops of shelves, ancient oak card catalogs with tarnished brass pull handles, several wooden patrons, and a studious librarian. Returning her focus, the girl quietly held on until her mother closed the newspaper and neatly folded it â�?�? a sign the waiting was over â�?�? at least for now. A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place in Iowa Press Women and National Federation of Press Women competitions. Damonâ�?�?s columns took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 and 2008 Communications Contests. For more information, e-mail paulada mon@iw.net. 2008 �?© Paula Damon

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