Saturday was a stressful, jam-packed day for your corpulent correspondent. I nearly had a heart attack on three separate occasions, and was on the verge of tears at least once. Way too much emotion for my tastes…
I worked the night before, and got up earlier than normal to attend our oldest son’s last swim meet. I’d already gone to his final home meet, but this was the last one of them all: district championships in Wilkes-Barre.
It was a struggle getting off the platform after so little sleep, and my brain wasn’t working correctly. I left the house when I’d planned, but somehow got lost. My mind was drifting, and I drove straight past the exit. I got off the next chance I had, and planned to just jump back on 81, and back-track.
But, I ended up WAY off course, driving through residential areas I’d never seen before, totally and completely lost. I was convinced I was going to miss his final races, and my heart was hammering in my chest. It didn’t help matters when he texted and said, “Are you here?”
Dammit! I felt like I’d passed through some kind of portal, and was now in a time before the interstate system was built. Only the occasional check-cashing places, with bars on the windows, shattered the illusion.
Eventually I found 81 again, and tore ass toward Wilkes-Barre. I was driving almost 90 mph, and was fully expecting to be pulled over by one of those cops with the chin strap that goes below the mouth, and not the chin. But, my crime went unpunished.
And as I was walking into the facility, the boy’s first event of the day was starting. He was literally standing on the block, and dove in as I came rushing into the building. Whew! I’d made it, barely. I was certainly wide awake now. Shit.
I saw all his final races, including the last one of them all… the 100 backstroke. It was sad, and I had a lump in my throat the whole time. I don’t think most people understand how much of a time commitment swimming is, and he’s been at it competitively, since he was 8. It’s been a HUGE part of his life, and ours. And now it was coming to an end.
After the race he texted me, and asked me to meet him downstairs. He was barely holding it together: really emotional. The finality of it all was doing a number on him. And many other people in that humid house o’ tears… But he composed himself, and went back to support the team. He was finished for the day, but didn’t want to leave until the end.
Once it was over, they all huddled together, and did one final cheer. Those kids have spent enormous amounts of time together, and now it’s done.
That night, he and his girlfriend went to Philadelphia, to see a concert by someone I don’t know: Nick Waterhouse. I have no idea.
This was something Toney and I discussed at length, and we finally gave him our blessing. However, the whole thing made my sphincter wink. He’s 17, and wasn’t exactly raised on the mean streets, if you know what I’m saying. The thought of him driving 140 miles to the heart of Philly on a Saturday night, caused me gastrointestinal distress.
Everything turned out OK, except for one thing… He didn’t check in when we asked him to, and didn’t answer his phone for long stretches of time. We’d set up several ground rules, and one was that he’d text us when he got there, when he was leaving, and when he made it back to the turnpike. Three quick check-ins, so we’d know he was OK.
He missed the first one completely, and I was flipping out. We called his phone, and got no answer, over and over. Toney called the girl’s phone, and it went straight to voicemail. What the hell?? I had all sorts of visions flashing through my head.
Toney said, “You need to calm down, or you’re going to have a stroke.” That kid checks his phone every minute, and we hadn’t heard from him in hours. Why was he not responding?? I was pacing the house, putting my shoes on, taking them off… I was losing it, man.
Then, both of them texted us at the same time: “Sorry, we forgot. We’re fine.” Grrr…
He did check-in when they were leaving, but missed their “back on the turnpike” text. And, once again, wouldn’t answer the phone. So, I was freaking out one more time. Not as bad as the first go ’round, but close.
And I want to be clear. I wouldn’t have called him at all, if he’d just sent the three texts I asked of him. He sends roughly a million texts per day, so this was not exactly a taxing request. I wouldn’t have bothered him, if he’d just done what we asked. As it turned out, the whole evening was an exercise in me trying not to shit my pants.
But, they made it without incident, and apparently had fun. The next day I gave him low-wattage grief over not doing what we’d asked, but I didn’t make a huge deal out of it. It was a triumph for him, and I didn’t want to spoil it.
For a Question, I’d like to know about the times you’ve gotten lost. I know everybody has GPS on their phones now, but hopefully some of you have some good “getting lost” stories to tell from the pre-smartphone era. Please use the comments link below.
And I’ll see you guys again soon.
Have a great day!