This little fella is on his way. Actually, he has been on his way for quite some time. An object in continuous motion. From the moment we first laid eyes on him in the hospital room nearly 16 years ago. Before then, really, since he was an active little bugger in his mother’s belly, as I recall. To date, no matter how far he’s sprinted off, his little figure in the distance was still perceptible to the human eye. To my human eye.
I feel that’s about to change.
We have had some test launches, to be sure. Sleep-away summer camps during which Max would effectively hover on the dark side of the moon, incommunicado, for weeks at a time. A month-long sojourn to China — I still don’t have a firm grasp on the far-flung villages he visited; it all seemed so surreal. The Terra Cotta Warrior statuette stands vigil on my bedside table, a subtle reminder as I sit here typing in my pajamas, that my firstborn has stood in places I can barely comprehend and likely will never see. And it feels as though he is poised to do it again. Only this time, to me, feels different.
We have twisted the dial two years into the future, more or less. The dreaded thud of college-trunk-on-dormroom-floor will twist my innards two years earlier than they expected to be twisted. My boy is headed to boarding school in the fall. Two thousand nine hundred eighty four and four-tenths of a mile from home. I’ve had a couple months to mull this over. To conjure up the poignant, anticipated images in my mind’s eye, affording my head and heart an opportunity to process things. To try to make peace with it. I am forcing myself to get there, because this is the right thing for Max.
But I’m clearly not there yet.
This streak of consecutive nights I plod up the bedroom stairs to the living room couch? I have been telling my wife, and myself, that the couch offers respite from the frequent snoring emanating from my bed and/or from the dog’s bed. There is snoring, but that’s not what gnaws at me. The bowls of cinnamon squares at 4 in the morning are not the result of low blood sugar or simple hunger. The obsessive Twitter newsfeed binges that settle me back to sleep just as the birds outside begin to wake do not stem from a need to stay abreast of breaking news.
I am wrestling with what happens — what I know will happen — when a parent gives the greenlight for takeoff.
I vividly recall watching my preschool, race-bibbed Batman pump his little legs down that short stretch of macadam. I guess I didn’t realize the nondescript strip of pavement was actually a runway. And that he would continue running right through the finish line tape. Off in the distance now, he’s nearly off the ground, feet barely in contact. I can still see him if I squint, but just barely. And I need to get myself ready.
Thanks for reading.