As he buckled the swollen belt suddenly my groin felt the chill of death–E.B. White, Once More to the Lake

I have to go into the office to check on a HVAC problem, so I grab The Tween to go with me. He catches me up with the band news, his knowledge of indie music growing more encyclopedic by the day, a passion we both share. When books, music, and movies help create meaning in your life, you worry your children will only consume James Patterson, One Direction, and Michael Bay. Hearing The Tween debate the merits and nuances of Animal Collective and Sylvan Esso makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

I give him some change to run into the convenience store. I enjoy watching him roam the aisles as I sit in the car; he furiously calculates in his head how much candy he can buy. “How’d you do?” I ask on his return. He smiles and show me a nickel, the only change remaining. I get peanut M&Ms and he shares his gummi Lifesavers.

Pulling Unit
A pulling unit at work

Headed home, rounding a corner, I consider that all the best times with my father occurred in moments like this. Riding in his pickup to find a part for one of his pulling units, strange vehicles that fixed broken oil wells, their mysteries understood by him and alien to me. Later, cruising gravel roads to check the the oil leases he had started to purchase at great risk and sacrifice. We sang Beatles songs and he told me stories of growing up in a house without indoor plumbing, of attending a one-room school, of longing to grow old enough to sit on the back row where you really didn’t have to pay attention anymore.

Not long from now, The Tween will become Teen: The Sequel, and I hope some lessons from his older brother will make this journey easier. Soon he will be the same age I was when my parents divorced. Instead of dimming with time, that hurt grows as I carry both my own sorrow and increasingly my parents’. I’m starting to understand what that event must have done to them. People in our Baptist church never got divorced; they both continued attending out of pride or stubbornness or habit or some other motivation I cannot fathom.

Do we give our children what they need or what we wish our parents had given us? Will my son cherish this ride or long for some other connection I never gave him?

As we arrive home, I experience the chill of uncertainty: Do I feel the scars of my own broken heart, or the fissures my son will have to plumb on his own ride in the dark?

One Response to “Once More to the Office”

  1. Andrea



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