Messy. Routine. Sort of fun.

I’m at Bj and Claudia’s party Saturday night. Jana and Tre are there. Walt and Dave and Ryan and Justin, too. These are old pals. I’ve gotten kicked out of bars with these people, arrested in Mexico with them, and even gone streaking in a lightning storm with a few of them. We share a history.

But I don’t see my friends much these days. They don’t have kids, which means they aren’t waking up early Saturday mornings for soccer games or enduring birthday parties at Chucky Cheese’s.

At the party Saturday night, we say hey, these old friends and I. We ask each other what we’ve been up to.

“Taking it up the poop shoot like always,” I tell Walt, “But I really can’t complain. Life is a gift.”

“Changing diapers, sitting in traffic, vacuuming up dog hair and Cheerios,” I tell Jana. “Rinse, lather, and repeat.”

My friends tell me about their days—Jana and Tre snowboarding in Ruidoso and building a cabin there, Walt riding his new road bike to New Braunfels, BJ buying an amp. They tell me about shows they’ve gone to and restaurants I’ve got to try.

I don’t talk much about what’s going on with me. Their days are more interesting than mine.

***********

I’m sharing a sandwich at Jersey Mike’s Monday afternoon with our one year old, Slade, who is out of day care because he has pink eye.

“Uh oh,” the infant says, and intentionally drops a handful of turkey on the floor.

“You didn’t mean that,” I tell him. “That was no accident.”

Slade tosses a tomato off his tray and says uh oh again.

“Okay, we’re done,” I utter, but before I can remove the food in front of him, he sweeps it all on the floor with his hand.

“Uh oh,” he says one more time.

Slade’s face is filthy. He has orange eye gunk in his eyebrows, sandwich remnants on his cheeks, and a chunk of provolone glued to the tip of his nose.

Slade smiles and opens his mouth wide. A soggy half-chewed chunk of something becomes visible.

“Ahhhh,” he half yells, and the soggy chunk of something oozes out onto his chin and his shirt.

And that’s lunch. Messy. Routine. Sort of fun. A dad and his boy sitting in a strip mall sandwich shop.

***********

I don’t belong here. That’s the thought and the feeling I can’t kick at BJ and Claudia’s party Saturday as I talk with my friends about music and trips and concerts. I don’t fit here anymore.

I’ve brought Eli along, and BJ reprimands him a few minutes after we arrive for playing with a wind chime. After that, Eli stays close to me. He feels like he doesn’t belong here, either.

On the way out, I run into Dave, who is just arriving. Back in the day, Dave and I raced mountain bikes against each other. One late night, he and I and a couple of other friends broke into the abandoned control tower at the old airport. We sat on the roof of the tower that night and drank warm beer and gazed at the skyscrapers downtown.

“What are you up to?” he asks.

I consider telling him about coaching Eli’s basketball team and Slade walking and Sally scheming about changing jobs, but I know he wouldn’t be interested.

“Nothing much,” I say. “You?”

“Not much, man,” he replies, keeping his days and nights inside.

***********

Eli and I are walking out of basketball practice Monday night towards the station wagon, which is parked across a field.

“Come on, Dad. Let’s run,” Eli says and takes off across the field into the dark.

I chase behind him, an icy wind blasting me in the eyes. He is fast and smooth, and I’m breathing hard as I run. Eli, with his thin legs and stamina and drive, is built for this. He’s a natural runner.

I’m charged up racing with my five year old in the cold and wind, my breathing deepening as I settle into the run.

“I’m going to pass you, Eli Slow Britches,” I yell.

“You’ll never catch me, Daddy Slower Britches” he yells back and laughs and sprints ahead. I let him stay ahead tonight. I almost always do.

“Good race, Dad,” he tells me when we get to the car. Good race I tell him back, and add that next time he needs to slow the heck down so his puttering dad can win.

Eli thinks that’s funny.

“That’s not going to happen,” he informs me. And he might be right. Eli is going to be faster and stronger than me someday soon. He’s going to pass me and keep running. I hope so anyway. I want him to win at everything he does.

It strikes me now, tonight at home, as I type these words, that this is really what I’m up to. I’m racing Eli. I’m eating sandwiches with Slade. I’m shuffling through my days.

And it strikes me that this is where I belong right now, not in that hazy world of bars and parties with my old friends, but here, with Slade and Eli and Sally in this mundane life that is interesting only to me.

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5 Responses to “Messy. Routine. Sort of fun.”


  1. 1 D S Gardner February 24, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    And interesting to those of us leading the same life…

    So much melancholy in your musings. I pine for the same lost youth, yet celebrate the love I feel for Vangie and Ridley.

  2. 2 lesleyfamily February 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Perfectly put, Dave.

    I suppose there is lot of melancholy in these narratives. I was one of those kids who wore black and listened to Bauhaus. I guess I still kind of am.

  3. 3 Amanda February 28, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Snowboarding, getting arrested, and streaking might qualify as some kind of adventure, but the poop/vomit/etc removal shenanigans parents go through are much more exciting. Here’s to mundaneness. Though at times, yes, a bittersweet symphony no doubt.

  4. 4 Teri March 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Your life is interesting. Interesting in that profound way life makes day-to-day smaller adventures of love and sandwich goo. Your beautiful writing style makes it interesting, as well. Snow boarding and concerts are fine. Sally, Slade and Eli are divine.

  5. 5 lesleyfamily March 15, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Thanks, Teri. You’re too kind. Smaller adventures. I like that, and I think it pretty well describes this blog.


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