I took a very short bike ride this morning but I arrived a million miles from where I began.
My son and I commuted by bike today. He went to school and I went on to the office. I actually had to overshoot my destination a bit and circle back. It’s a trip I’ve been imagining since he was first born and last night we talked about when and where I should peel off so as not to ride too far into the “cool zone” around the school. My son is a very affectionate kid who is a very big hugger but for him at this moment this was clearly a no-hug area and we discussed it way in advance. So when the time came to split off we executed a perfect maneuver that would leave most people thinking we were no more than casual friends. By the end of my turn I’d ridden right into the next chapter of our relationship.
Not very long ago I could hold him like a football in one arm and now he’s in high school. There are times defined by a singular emotion—but the really important times are defined by a cocktail of feelings that intertwine like a bowl of spiritual spaghetti; this one with an ingredient list of joy, sadness, longing and peace …and probably a few others I don’t yet have the emotional palette to detect. All I know is it tastes wonderful and weird, and it’s spicy enough to make my eyes water.
When he was a little boy he looked up at me one night while I was reading him a story and said, “Dad, you’re the best dad I ever had.” Kids say some bizarre shit. But they seem to know stuff at that age that somehow, over time, they’re forced to forget. It’s like they’re waking up from a dream about other lives and other worlds.
Or perhaps they’re being lulled into the sleep of this world.
Anyway, I of course said, “Son, you’re the best son I’ve ever had.” And whether I live a million lives or it all ends with this one, that will always be true. And I just don’t know how to feel about that.
Mixed emotions will have to do.