It is not normal for me to pull out a bottle of vodka and pour a drink at 11:30 on a Friday night though it might have been 30 years ago.
The messages started coming in Thursday night about whether there was a credible threat at the middle and high schools in the town we live in.
“Dear Parents, we are aware of the threat and we’re taking it seriously even though we don’t really believe anything will happen. We’ll have a bigger police presence than normal and have taken additional measures to protect your kids.”
I am paraphrasing but it is close enough to what showed up in my inbox.
“Dad, I am ok with going to school. Honestly more worried about catching Covid than getting shot.”
Her words made me proud and made sense because statistically it is solid. She has heard me talk about the importance of staying calm more than once and I repeated it again today.
She left for school and I choked down a double dose of what the fuck have we done wrong because something is broken.
When practicing lock down drills and being prepared for school shootings is routine something is wrong. When normal should be abnormal…
Neither of us look like our pictures anymore though I am far closer than she is now.
“If you need me, text me and I’ll get to you.”
“Dad, the school will be locked down. You won’t be able to get in.”
“I tore both doors off of a pick up truck, been thrown through closet doors and had my head slam into windshield of the green car. You let me worry about that and trust I’ll get to you. In the interim you stay calm and pay attention. Smart decisions.”
I know I sound ridiculous and she is old enough to know that maybe I am not superman. She also knows all those stories are true.
But if the ridiculous still provides any comfort I am ok with it. I have looked ridiculous before and probably will again. Hell, I have been told recently that I am. I pay no attention, don’t wear a sweater because others are cold.
Blame it on my hard head and or blame it on the concussion I probably suffered when I smacked into the windshield.
Somewhere around 2005 I was driving a Honda Accord down Burbank Boulevard when a guy made a sudden left turn in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and tensed up because I knew steel was going to hit steel.
I can hear the brakes squealing, feel my legs stomp them to the floor hard enough that I expected my feet to break through the floor like Fred Flintstone.
There is a loud boom and the airbags explode from the dash. Wasn’t a pillow like experience, felt like getting punched in the face and I am pretty sure part of my head still hit the windshield.
Looked for my trusty Motorola flip phone and discovered it was in two pieces. Wondered if the person I had been speaking with heard the collision or if I just suddenly dropped.
Drove through the beginning of the LA Riots, been through multiple large earthquakes and got evacuated from a forest fire. I know something about myself and these moments.
And what I know more than anything is I hate the idea that my daughter has to deal with this nonsense and that I can’t be there.
Life never stops and you have to accept the changes.
Haven’t heard back from any universities yet but she will and then decisions will be made about where she goes off to school.
If life goes as we all hope her days of living with mom and dad are coming to a close. She’ll always have a room but in her ideal world once she leaves for school her days of living under my roof will be just that days and not years.
It is a natural change and to be celebrated but some of it is bittersweet.
There are more stories from the guys creeping up of preparation for the next stage. Tales of wives crying and or some of the guys choking up at odd times are starting to pepper conversations.
Add in the guys who have already been down the road with their own stories about how great and or how difficult it is.
“I don’t know who she is anymore. The girl I married is gone and now there is a stranger living with me. You better have hobbies because you’ll have nothing but time together. It is amazing. We’re finally living our lives again.”
It all blurs and bleeds together and I remind a few that I am not there yet.
Still have to finish this semester and get through one more and hope that I don’t get more of these “what-the-fuck moments” unless they’re about something really cool and amazing.
Taking a realistic approach but trying to be optimistic about it all. Can’t do much more than play the hand we’re dealt and do the best we can with it.
What a time.