It’s hard sometimes. To get away from all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. Even when you’re in the best place you’ve ever been. Living a blessed life with a pretty wife and two terrific kids—another Gen-Xer that’s gone soft and has given in to comfort, happiness—doing what it takes to make ends meet, keep the family safe and smiling, slowly correcting all those moments of sin that came before the married life.
Dark nights and even darker days.
But by God, you had fight then.
You could run and drink and eat and fish and fuck then. And you could write. Boy, you could write.
There was time for everyone and time for yourself and time it seemed would never run out.
I tried not to watch my son too much tonight. I was at his soccer practice roasting in the heat, smacking away bugs, remembering what it was like to be nine years old and have open fields to run. Barefoot and wild like some child of the woods. Every time I saw him moving around so freely and flawlessly I had to look away. I believed that if I only watched in spurts it would last longer and that I would have more of him to keep. Dozens of nuggets of memories to revisit and relive again and again.
I sat on the swings next to my wife. Watched my daughter make friends with a stranger’s kids. Pointed out a rainbow. Wished the sky would break. Bring us the rain we need.
The coach kept blowing his whistle. Trying to maintain control. Exercise authority. Teach kids to stay in position, go after the ball, know their place in the field.
Wishing I would have made other decisions is silly. I see now that they were made for me. All I could do was learn how to accept them. And that’s what I’ve done. The world does break all of us. Hemingway was right. And I can sense him tonight. Sitting across the table from me. His big hands pecking away at his Halda portable. A whiskey and soda at the ready. He and I writing it all out—all of it except for a few drops—some starter fluid for a tomorrow that is not guaranteed, but that we know waits. Patiently. Like a good wife and good kids, as you do whatever it takes to mend the broken places and be stronger because of them.