The pictures and comments are part of what makes it clear I am entering a phase of life that is a little bit different.
“This is my grand dog playing with my grandson. He is 3. We’re trying to convince our daughter to let him stay with us for the weekend so that they can start working on grand child number two”
One of the other men inserts his own special commentary.
“As the father of a teenage girl I can’t imagine trying to help some boy get a weekend alone with my daughter. But my wife can. She can’t wait to be granny, she is tired of listening to her friends talk about how much fun it is.”
I don’t say much because there isn’t anything of substance to share now. Haven’t thought much about what name I want the grand kids to call me because that ought to be some years away.
In the dream we’re in the apartment I once lived in. The lights are out and clouds cover the sky so the room is dark enough to make it hard to see more than shapes.
I am having a conversation with someone but I can’t remember what they just said. Instead I hear myself, “the letters you don’t read and the stories I don’t tell.”
My voice sounds as it does early in the day when I haven’t spoken much, it is a deep rumble.
There is no edge to it nor that hint of laughter that people use to clue themselves in on my mood.
Given that I remember this partial fragment of a dream I am not sure what my mood was or whom I was speaking with.
Best guess is it was a woman because my arms were opened wide, as if I had finished my gesture and was offering an embrace.
Could be, there are very few hugs when you live alone and fewer still when you are circumspect about it.
The younger Mr. Wilner wants to know if I have ever stopped speaking to someone and I nod head yes.
“A few people. Some I saw every day. I didn’t acknowledge them, looked through them. Don’t really advise doing that.”
“It is pretty hurtful.”
“They must have made you angry.”
“About as angry as I get. If you reach silence there is a good chance I am beyond done.”
We’re silent and he nods his head. I can feel him considering what I have said and exploring the meaning and ramifications.
“I can’t remember why. Keep that in mind. I kept it up for a long time but I can’t tell you what prompted it, just that I kept going.”
I remember other meetings where the pictures of the grand dog and grandchildren were shared but no one asked me if I had any grand kids then. Hell, they didn’t ask if I had kids at all.
Those were the days in which I always seemed to be one of the youngest people in the office. Felt like that for years and then not as much.
Eventually we reached a place where the grandparents no longer seemed ancient to me and I didn’t seem like a baby to them.
The 32 year-old told me he was happy I wasn’t quite as old as the old people.
“What’s old to you?”
“Someone who is 48 or maybe 55. You know those people who quote music and movies from the 80s and 90s.”
“If I said you might wake up with a horse’s head in your bed or I was going to make an offer you can’t refuse would you know the reference?”
“Have you seen any of the Godfather movies?”
“Well I guess I am old too.”
“No, you’re not like them.”
“Don’t know, I just used some 70s pop culture on you. I was in high school in the ’80s. I used to listen to these discussions and have a bunch of the same thoughts as you. Things change.”
Now & Then
The girl that calls me Dad just finished her summer program. She loved it but I can hear the exhaustion in her voice.
She barely has enough energy to tell me she got back to her grandparent’s house.
It is good to hear she loved it. She didn’t know anyone on the program and I promised she would make friends.
I felt her skepticism, but I told her to trust me. I went on similar programs as kid and staff and some things never change.
It is not hard to go back in time and remember the mixed feelings of being home and leaving some friends you knew would be part of your life forever.
Sometimes that included saying goodbye to a girl you didn’t want to leave but you lived in different states and or countries.
Thirty-Six years ago I stood in a pub in Jerusalem watching Live Aid. There was a group of us drinking beer and singing along.
We were from all over the world, young and invincible. Can’t do the memory the justice it deserves here and won’t try.
That treadmill is calling me and the best I have are wishes that those in similar positions come back with the same sort of thing.
A chance to have some anchor spots in your memory of shared magical moments when the ordinary became extraordinary.