“I don’t like that smile.”
“You know why. Your oldest friends know that when you smile like that something is on your mind and you’re unpredictable.”
I laughed and said he was right and told him to call Glen. “You can ask him if he has learned any tricks for managing that particular situation in the past 45 years.”
“Dad, I am not doing that.”
“I am not telling you what to do. I am only offering suggestions. Hell, you know that telling me what to do is often incentive for me to go do whatever I was told not to do. So I get it.”
I flashed the smile at him and added “remember, this is the only face I have. I can’t do anything about it.”
He rolled his eyes at me and I told him I have been working on my craft since his aunt was born fifty some years ago.
“J, you are on your way. You’re so far along the path you can’t see it. I am so proud of you.”
I watched him cock his head to figure out if I was messing with him and saw him recognize I wasn’t.
I feel the damn changes in multiple places and hear bells going off in my head. Don’t ask me to explain what, why or how I can see these things coming because I can’t.
But enough has happened to give me confidence that I am onto something.
I let the phone ring two or three times but hung up before the voicemail picked up. Thought about sending an email or text but chose to let it lie.
“We’re going to have that talk, maybe not today, but we’re going to have it.”
I said it out loud and laughed at myself.
“You lived alone for too long and your habits show it.”
Put the phone down and watched it for a moment to see if a response was going to come through.
Wasn’t surprised to see it buzz and beep almost immediately but none of those were in response to the call that didn’t go through.
Damn work phone is always burning up which is a good thing but there are moments where it is nice not to have it going like that.
The funny thing about that moment was that I hadn’t left a message because I wanted to control being able to call back. It was as if I was dating except it was a work situation and I most certainly wasn’t trying anything of the sort here.
This was about a specific opportunity that I was trying to secure and hadn’t been able to put to bed.
Pulled up the file and spent a couple of minutes thinking about whether it was better to just book a flight to Atlanta or to give it a little more time.
“Face-to-face is always better but you’re pretty good on the phone when you need to be.”
I looked at the dog and asked him if that sounded arrogant and he wagged his tail.
“That is why I love you. There may not be anyone who is more supportive in my life than you. Thank you for that. Go get yourself a bone on me.”
He wagged his tail and put his head on my knee. I shared a few more thoughts and ideas with him.
“Mr., did you know that I write down different subject lines and random phrases throughout the day and play around with using them in different contexts.
I almost sent an email with that subhead in the subject line just to see if it would get a response. It is not professional so I didn’t do it.
But I have gotten creative and I have helped some colleagues write emails from time to time.”
My furry pal wagged his tail again and I scratched under his chin and spent more time working on strategy and solutions for a couple of situations.
Came up with a couple of things and created a list of action items and smiled. It had been a very productive afternoon and that always feels good.
If I was as productive in my personal life things would really be rolling. I get things done…but not on the same level and that is probably fine.
We need time to recharge our batteries or so the fine folks say.
It is a funny time of life and I have wondered if it would feel the same if we hadn’t been through a pandemic, insurrection and some of the other chaos.
Some of it would, sending kids off to college is always going to be an experience. I remember Dad talking about what it was like when the kids were gone..”
“One day you’ll see how different it is and how in some ways you reclaim parts of your life.”
I hear versions of that on a regular basis. More stories from the guys about how much closer they are to retirement or how they still have a chunk of years left.
Conversations about downsizing intermixed with some who want to buy bigger homes so they can host the kids and grand kids.
Heck, I am beginning to see more than a few friends become grandparents so maybe it is more natural to think about transition and change now because it is all around me.
I’ll make a good grandfather…one day but not yet.
Dentist told me today that I have a cavity under a crown so they’re going to have to pull it, fill it and replace it.
“Don’t wait too long or you’ll be looking a root canal.”
“Sure thing doc. You don’t happen to be sending any kids off to college or want to pay for a trip to Tahiti now do you?”
He laughs, says I have a great sense of humor and says the girls at the front can help me schedule the appointment.
Back at the house I find myself running my tongue over my teeth while I work on building out a strategy for a new project.
I hear my son in the kitchen and ask if he can bring me a drink.
“I still don’t like that smile.”
I tell him he is safe and listen as he asks me for advice about a work situation at his office.
Life may be a little crazy, but I have a pretty good feeling about some things. Think I’ll bask in that for as long as I can, it is better than feeling worried all the damn time.
Life is one hell of an adventure.