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August 05 • Men 2 Boyz

Day 758

I am on a trip with my grown son. It's just for a couple of days and then we'll be home, but this is the first occasion for the two of us to spend any significant away time together in a few years. My reserved emotions are swarming around the precious recollections of our past annual summer adventures that included caves and bats and rivers and campfires. It seems like yesterday, but our last trek together was more than a quarter-century ago. I miss those unexpected banters and discoveries and frights that go with fathers trying to be younger and sons trying to be older for the brazen purposes of impressing the other and hoping for a bonding that will heal the past and protect the future.

This trip is just me hanging around while my boy takes care of some of his customers in Detroit. Thirty years ago, he used to travel with me on business trips to Washington, D.C. It seems things have changed.

Today is also the first time in more than two years that I have been away from home without my wife; the first time since disclosure. I am concerned for her being alone with her thoughts, and I am concerned for the pull of my past life that I am not interested in revisiting. I am reminded that my addiction is "cunning and baffling," and I do not want to open any doors that put my sobriety, and my life, in danger.

This morning, as I was packing my worn-out gym bag with the overnight necessities of a tagalong, I was aware of a giddiness. I attributed it to a good night's sleep following a productive day of work, but neither were particularly deserving of those descriptions. I had to admit to myself that I was looking forward to this time away from my daily routine. I immediately resisted that thought because I concluded it meant I was looking forward to being away from my wife and being free to flirt with that which I should firmly forego. My shame was immediate, but it did not cause fear, nor did it lessen the feeling of lightness as I threw clean socks, underwear, and golf shirts into the bag. I did not feel guilty for what had not yet happened, and I continue to believe it will not happen. Yet, that damn shame cast its shadows over me, and I heard that still too familiar voice of my addict friend again whispering his non-words into my ears from the inside.

Relief from this confliction was from a most unexpected source. As we are driving through Ohio, my son starts playing an audiobook of a sci-fi classic. I had forgotten how fluid are the writings of Isaac Asimov, and I was quickly taken with his wordsmithing as he laid the foundations for his story. Out of the blue, one of the characters was denied a simple pleasure, and Asimov wrote,

"It was childish to feel disappointed, but childishness comes as easy to a man as it does to a child."*

Wow. I used to be embarrassed at how much my memories from childhood seem separated from my current thoughts only by chronology. I've always explained that observation by suggesting that, as a boy, I was an old soul; ahead of my mental time, if you will. But maybe I had that backward.

As I've spent more time getting to know my younger self in the past couple of years, I have become comfortable with a longing for the innocent freedoms of a boy's way of thinking, if such a thing exist.

Perhaps I am giddy about this trip for no more complicated reason than that which ignites the unknowns of a child's imagination. Memories of an unscheduled fishing trip with my dad are still among my favorite places to rest my soul, and that feels a lot like this.

Maybe I'm just looking forward to time with my son and whatever comes from that. That is surely worth embracing with unbridled caution and welcoming!


*Isaac Asimov, Foundations


Oh Jesus, bring back the boy in me

Put your hand on my heart

And let me run free

Woh-oh-woh Jesus

My eyes need help to see

And I want to be the boy in me

–Glen Campbell, “The Boy in Me”



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