“Sir, can you tell me whether we can walk to the Stockyards from here?”
“You could, but it is not a short walk. I’d grab a cab, bike or Uber over there.”
The man nods his head and I push through Sundance Square towards my appointment and discover I am being stood up. Not the first time, probably won’t be the last.
I start wandering back towards where I think I parked the car and realize I am not entirely sure where that is.
“JD, you have got to start paying attention. C’mon Joshua Daniel, you know this is how you get into trouble.”
A voice responds and says it is untrue, “I get into trouble when I am bored, awake and or not locked up.”
“Talking to yourself is a good way to get a seat on the bus and divorce leads to victory.”
The man asks if I am a Wiccan and I tell him I am not a quite a Druid.
We end up having the sort of conversation two strangers have when they have no concern about what they say because they’ll never see each other again.
“Single men like us know what it is like to be alone, don’t we.”
Nod my head, “when you live alone and apart you learn to embrace the silence and to wear it as a crown.”
A few more sentences float across the space and then the conversation is complete. There is an unspoken agreement and the anniversary of the initial meeting isn’t celebrated because the moment is gone.
As I walk away he wishes me good fortune, health and peace of mind, “and to you the same.”
The Plentiful Victories
The boy asks me how we can possibly cross the sea and I say I am going to make like Moses and cause it to split.
He rolls his eyes and I tell him when I raise my arms the waters will part and he can run across.
It isn’t met with approval and I offer to carry him across on my back or shoulders but that is denied too.
“You need to understand that I have spent decades learning how to keep moving forward regardless of what the path looks like. Sunny, snowy or barbarian attacks are not to enough to stop forward progress, they can only slow it down.”
“Dad, that is ridiculous.”
“No, what is ridiculous is letting self imposed limitations stop us. Every day someone tells me no. Every day someone makes an excuse for why they can’t do X, Y or Z.
Fuck ’em all.
Inertia needs to be beaten with a rusty board and then slapped in the mouth. You have to keep rocking back and forth and once you get things moving you have to keep going.”
He thinks I am being ridiculous and I tell him it doesn’t matter because my personal and professional lives prove that sometimes ridiculous works.
“Don’t ever forget that your old man hates change but has moved more times than I care to count during the past 10 years. I am scared silly of mixing it up but rarely afraid to actually do it.”
Five hours later I get the report of a big victory and I tell him I am proud and that I knew it.
“Sometimes you have to believe even when it feels like you shouldn’t.”
I can feel the joy and relief radiating off of him and I think about it is too bad dad is not around to hear this.
His grandchildren have had so many victories in so many areas, he would be pleased.
Midway through the thought I start laughing because I realize what I am really saying is I miss sharing those stories and hearing him reshare them.
The stories of the grandson whose baseball team won a state championship or the granddaughter whose soccer team won county are silent.
I don’t get to hear him tell me about the victories and big moments my children shared with him and laugh at how excited he got.
If the same thing happened to me he would congratulate me and tell me to stay focused and be much more reserved with the praise, but the grand kids were different.
He loved being grandpa.
Sometimes people ask if I feel jealous or am upset by how he treated them versus my sisters and I.
The answer is always no. They are very different situations and I can guarantee with absolute certainty had they been privileged to be son/daughter they would have had the same experience as we did.
There is a difference between being dad and grandpa and that is ok.