When Em and Ry were ” just college friends” who had returned to their homes for the summer, Ry, an EMT, would occasionally show up in my driveway in an ambulance – between calls. He lived 30 minutes away, but the company he worked for covered our neighborhood. Once he visited Em in the middle of the night. My middle. Not theirs. For college students, the night is still young at 2 AM.
No siren was involved, but I woke up to a revolving red light flashing through my bedroom window. When I looked through the pane I could see them kibitzing, along with his shift partner. The next morning, a few of my neighbors looked as if they were surprised to see me up and about..
Anyways. . . the following school year, Em went to Washington D.C to study. It was the stay - in - the - USA version of a semester abroad. She surprised me when, less than ten days after her departure, she asked to fly home for the weekend. Was she homesick? Not quite. More likely lovesick, but too close to the malaise to figure out the symptoms. What she had figured out was - if she flew home Friday afternoon, we could hop in the car and head to the Stonehill campus in time to see Ry , the backstage guy, perform his first role on the Stonehill Theatre stage.
The plane from D.C. landed on time. As we headed northeast the Mass Pike traffic moved right along to 495S – a minor miracle at the start of a weekend. We arrived and took our seats (no surprising before the show!) just in time to see Ry’s debut – a success for us, offstage, and for him, on.
As Mommy-of-his--greatest-fan, I gave Ry even stronger reviews for his extemporaneous performance after the show. He spotted me first. Looked downright confused. Then turned to the sound of Em’s voice as she uttered, “Surprise.” Then came the hug. I’m not sure I would have thought Em’s two-legged trip – in the air and on the Pike—would have been worth the trouble if he stopped at a hug. But he didn’t. Almost as if the move had been rehearsed, he grabbed her around the waist, picked her up, and gave her a little spin the way Gene Kelly might lift Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal. Coming attractions, I thought, to the sequel of this story.