The kids are back in school. Seniors. Their last year of compulsory education has begun, and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it. On a abstract level, I understand that they are nine months away from graduation, a year from 18, from having to really decide in what direction they want to go. As for actually knowing what that will look like, or how it will impact me, I’m clueless. I can only hope I’ve given them enough information, skills and direction to make the best decisions they can.
This transition from summer to the school year feels the same as every other. One day the boys are here, all the time, no real responsibilities, sleeping in, hanging out with friends. The next morning the house takes on a strange stillness. This year, the puppy is taking up some of the slack, and all of my free time, but I’ve still noticed an altered energy. Something is clearly missing, again.
I can’t help but think of myself at their age, my last year of high school in front of me. It seems forever ago and almost like it just happened. I can clearly remember many things that I did, wanted to do, experienced. My kids are different. School is different. They will have a completely different experience than mine, which is just as it should be.
But just like mine, the school year will pass, it will be over before they know it.
If I’m being honest (and I try to be), I’m looking forward to the time when it is just Sheryl and me, alone again. I know how amazing it is to have the empty nest, and while I will always welcome my kids home, I’m excited for the places Sheryl and I will go, as well as the quiet nights when it is just the two of us.
The anticipation is killing me. The possibilities are exciting to ponder.
Anyway, here are a few pictures of the lads, the traditional first day of school photos.
The headless dog photobomb is my favorite.
I attended high school at the end of the 1980’s and my school wasn’t the most racially diverse. Most of the students were suburban white kids, pretty sheltered. Still, I don’t remember race being an issue (though it is very possible I just didn’t see it). I naively believed that the racism which plagued America for hundreds of years had (for the most part) been overcome, and that my generation had grown beyond that sort of idiocy.
By the time I was in college, I was not quite so unobservant. But even then, it was clear to the majority of us that anyone acting overtly racist was an asshole. We dismissed their behavior, their rhetoric for what it was- Unintelligent garbage. Absolute crap.
I really believed America was growing up, putting aside old prejudices, becoming a more welcoming, open minded place.
I continued to believe it, even after the abhorrent behavior I witnessed from those who did not like having a black president. It was easy to do. Things seemed better. Social progress seemed to be unstoppable.
Maybe it moved too fast. Small minds weren’t ready.
And I had misjudged the pulse of the country completely.
In the last year to year and half, the voice I’d thought reduced to a dying whisper has become a very loud shout. Scared white people are running about screaming the sky is falling, their culture (whatever that means) is under assault, and they have to stand up, reclaim their country from everyone who suddenly won’t stay in their *proper* places.
The violence this past weekend is likely only the beginning of a nasty string of events.
Emotions are running dangerously high.
This isn’t just a conflict of ideas (one does not attend a debate armed, in full riot gear, ready to club the opposition), but a war against an ideology of oppression and hate. One that has already shown us what atrocities it is capable of committing, and one that cannot be given another chance.
Last weekend, I drove 8 hours from Salt Lake City to Lake Tahoe to attend my brothers bachelor party. I like driving long distances. It calms me, gives me ample time to think. Also, it allows for excellent conversations with travel companions. On this particular trip, it was me and one other fine gentleman, a close friend of two of my brothers. We talked sports, kids, dogs, politics, music, anything that came to mind. The first four hours passed quickly.
After stopping in Winnemucca for gas, my traveling companion crawled into the back seat for a nap. Out in front of me, the road stretched straight and unbending for what seemed like hundreds of miles. I put on some music, made myself comfortable in the seat, and drove. Hours passed. My mind wandered through so many topics, lingering on some for a while, allowing others to slip by almost without a complete thought.
Rhythms of the road.
When I find myself in that state of mind, I can go for hours without stopping. Small towns and cities passed by, and while driving through Reno (oops, I should have exited earlier as we were heading to Stateline, Nevada) was nerve-wracking, I adored the drive.
As for the party, well let’s just say that I am clearly too old for that sort of shenanigans. I love my brother and enjoy spending time with him, but this weekend I felt nervous and out of place most of the time.
At first, things were great. I drank some delicious beers, went on a spectacular group hike where we found a rock formation to summit. From there, the views were stellar. The lake was to our right, a sprawling valley of farms to our left.
This was my favorite moment of the weekend.
We stayed in an amazing place- three floors and ample bedrooms for all of us (between 12-15 fellows depending on the day).
All the elements were there for an epic gathering. I can only blame myself for not having an amazing time. Apparently, I’ve become a crotchety old man, always worried about everything. People were too loud, too happy, too drunk, too outrageous, too destructive for my comfort.
Maybe I should have drank more, allowed myself to be buzzed for three straight days, get into the spirit of things, but honestly, most of the time I just wanted to be anywhere else.
That worries me some.
For months, I had been looking forward to this weekend, anticipating the stories we’d have to tell afterward, the craziness we’d create. To then have a continual gnawing in my stomach, an anxiety that grew deeper each day; I have a hard time blaming that on age (even if it is super convenient).
I’ll have to ponder this some more.
The drive home was equally as pleasant as the ride out, and the conversations I had with myself (as my travel companion was exhausted from the weekend and slept for much of the ride) kept me stimulated and engaged. I’m super entertaining, really.
Also, the puppy love I received upon my return was epic.