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Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 1 of 7: About the Boy

Black bear!

A black bear welcomes travelers to a rest stop in Pennsylvania, where apparently black bears are all the rage.

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we’ve fired up the WABAC Machine and retold the stories from our first four outings together:

* 1999: our first Wizard World Chicago
* 2000: the second and final Gateway Science Fiction Convention in St. Louis
* 2001: our first Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL
* 2002: hangout with internet friends in Grand Rapids for the opening of Attack of the Clones

2003 was a milestone for a number of reasons, at least one of which you can discern from our lead photo. No, not the bear.

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Portrait of the Writer as a One-Time Two-Parent Kid

Golden!

Me at seven months old. My grandma’s caption written on the back of the photo begins, “Mommie had to take him. Daddy was in too big a hurry + didn’t give him time to look at him first.”

The annual MCC year-in-review clipfest and stats party will be coming later this week, but before we get to the fun stuff, perhaps a separate epilogue is due for one of the most (ostensibly) significant events that happened within any of my circles in 2015.

Back in September my father passed away after years of illness and decades of questionable choices. The week that followed was unlike any I’d experienced before — leaving me at a loss for words for a few days, engendering a wellspring of condolences from family and friends, creating no small number of moments both heartfelt and awkward and rife with flawed, generous assumptions.

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Every Father’s Day is a Fixed Point in Time

Father and SonThe photo at left was taken by my mom back in 2002. The original is surely stuck inside one of her many photo albums. All I have is this poorly scanned, cropped version that I once used as my LiveJournal profile pic. My son was seven, maybe eight years old. To this day it’s one of my favorite pics of the two of us, despite the distance and the low-res haze. Something about our shadowy faces and that sunbeam between us strikes a certain poignancy for me.

Like most all-purpose bloggers, I’ve written about various holidays at length in the past. Father’s Day is one of those for which I wish I could present you with something warm, fuzzy, life-affirming, and role-model-ish. Truth is, he and I play the day so low-key that I imagine some relatives probably worry about us. He’s not the most expressive or enthusiastic when it comes to holidays, family gatherings, or mushy moments, and I’m not one to force hugs and pleasantries from others. That’s my wife’s zealous area of expertise.

For us Father’s Day typically means dining out, doing something fun together (either video games or a movie, typically), and calling it a day. He’s now living up at college year-round, but this year’s get-together will look similar, a benign combination of food and entertainment. I love him and I always look forward to spending time with him, but cards and presents aren’t a part of the process. I wouldn’t turn down free stuff if he offered it, but I’m not the kind of Dudley Dursley to demand it.

As for how my Father’s Days work in the other direction…

Empty Nest Update #3: Handling Our First School Shooting

Purdue shooting black ribbon, 1/14/2014

For Andrew Boldt and family. Our prayers and thoughts are with them tonight.

Today during the course of one of our usual workday back-‘n’-forth email volleys, I thought it odd when my wife sent me another, separate email with a new title: “Purdue Shooting”. She knew she’d have my full attention.

Within the same minute that I opened her email, my son the Purdue freshman texted me. In case I heard about a shooting at Purdue, he wrote, he wanted me to know he was fine, even though he’d been in the same building where and when the shooting occurred.

That disrupted my concentration for a while.

In case you missed the news…

Empty Nest, Week 6: a Mission of Mercy and Meat

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in mid-August my son moved into his own apartment up at college, living alone for the first time. Naturally we underwent various bouts of grief, panic, pacing back and forth, imagined scenarios of endless possible disasters, and a sort of loving numbness that I wouldn’t necessarily call acceptance.

Last weekend my wife and I paid him a visit and took him out to lunch at a local joint recommended by people we trust. Thus we declared Saturday burger time at a local oxymoron named the Triple XXX Family Restaurant.

Triple XXX Family Restaurant, West Lafayette, Indiana

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Three-Week Progress Report from Our Newly Empty Nest

moving van, moving day

Three weeks ago on a milestone Monday, this was the scene in our driveway. Our morning was spent using our combined physical forces and my amazing Tetris powers to cram all my son’s possessions into a U-Haul truck for his big move up to college. (We also tossed in a few pieces of bonus ugly furniture for his meager quality-of-living peace of mind that we won’t miss anyway.)

Instead of the standard dorm experience that I’m told millions of Americans thrive on each year, his domicile of choice for the next four years or until catastrophe strikes will be a modest, off-campus apartment. This sort of drastic lifestyle change would require more than a few suitcases and tote bags.

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