I’m writing this post on my phone (a first) over breakfast in the Seattle IKEA (also a first) having just dropped The Knucklehead off at the airport for his return flight back east.
Show of hands if you’re surprised I started full-snot, can’t-talk, ugly-crying somewhere on I5, well before we reached the departure drop-off.
Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’m the only one who didn’t see coming.
We had a great week together. Oh, the places we went, and I shotgunned them all over Facebook, in progress. Every café, pub, diner, and dive we visited, the shops in Olympia, the excursions in Seattle, the movie at the Olympus in Centralia. All the stuff that fits into the Facebook algorithm was dutifully noted. Not to put that down, it was all great, but there were moments that Facebook doesn’t have a slot for that made the week, well, sob-worthy. Moments that made me realize that home is truly wherever my boy and I are.
Home isn’t about the trips and the meals out and the excursions. Those are important, but divorced dads learn quickly that you can’t buy the reality of a parent/child relationship with the fun stuff. The relationship is in the everyday. That’s what made this visit, my son’s first to our west coast home so successful. We had our Facebook moments, sure. But we also, in the course of a week, got frustrated, irritated, and plain old pissed off with each other. I could see Knucks swallowing his frustration whenever a minor hitch threatened to wreck my enjoyment of an otherwise perfectly planned day. I got frustrated the evenings in when my son’s attention was more focused on his phone or a book than on us. Our relationship isn’t friction-free. I just don’t tend to write about the rough patches. But they’re there.
And it’s the rough patches that made this visit… perfect. The fact that we were comfortable enough with each other to slide back into the old relationship, warts and all. Afterthe first 24 hours of our week together, we weren’t on our best behavior anymore. We trusted our relationship (and each other) enough to just be ourselves. It was nice to aggravate my son with my impatience, and he me with his easygoingness-bordering-on-indifference. It meant we could relax around each other.
In and around those moments, and the Facebook-worthy moments, were the moments of real connection. My assurance that a distance of 3000 miles hadn’t severed that.
So, yeah, I cried like a grandmother when I dropped my boy off. I felt stupid that I did, and stupid that I hadn’t fully expected it. But a lot if stuff came out with those tears. Grief, sure, at the unknown future. And relief that nothing I could ever do, and nowhere I could ever go would ever cut my bond with my son. Pouring out with the tears was an attitude of looking back, of apprehension about what the move would mean to my son. First visit out of the way, I’m free to look ahead now. I can focus more on my life in front of me than how a 20-something a continent away will react to it. The kid will be OK. So will I.