Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Best Things in Life

Okay, this one is for my own peace of mind, so please bear with me on this one… Maybe some of you who have been there can relate, and those who are headed there will be forewarned...

It sounds cliché, but the simple pleasures in life really are the best. I had one of those “moments of realization” just last week as I watched the Major League All-Star Game with my son Sid. It was a simple thing, but it truly was one of the things in life that makes me happiest…and all we did was watch a baseball game on TV together.

For the past eight or nine years, I really haven’t been able to sit down with my family and watch the All-Star Game, since we always seemed to have conflicts with Little League all-star games or practices. It wasn’t a big deal, but with those commitments in the past, I knew I’d get the chance to watch this one.

Sid remembered a tradition of “keeping with the theme” that we had when he was young, so he grilled some hot dogs and had them ready for when I got home from work. Sam had friends over, but they were preoccupied with other things (and he’s doing what a 15-year-old boy should be doing—goofing around with friends). Beth wasn’t really interested in a meaningless exhibition baseball game. So Sid and I just watched the game, which got better and better with one great play after another until it dramatically ended in the 15th inning with another American League victory. We were disappointed in the outcome, but both clearly delighted that we experienced a great game together – and each other’s company.

I bring up this otherwise insignificant story because my son Sid is moving back to school this week for his second year at Cal State San Marcos. The realization that my buddy is going away again is just a little hard for me.

Actually, last year it kicked my butt. I was excited for him to be going away to college and really didn’t give it much thought up until about three days before he had to move. Then reality hit me hard and I was a mess. But it was for all of the right reasons. My boy was going to college. I was –and still am, of course – about as proud as a dad could be. It just hit me: “How did we get to this point so fast?”

The truth is that he had a great first year in college and experienced the things you are supposed to. I wouldn’t want it any other way. He lived on his own and learned to play beer pong (even if it’s not the same game of skill that we played). He ran on the university’s track team and joined a fraternity. And he made some friends that will probably be some of his best friends for life.

And it will be even better for him this year. He may have even stumbled onto a job that will lead to a career that lasts him well after he has finished college.

He’s a great young man, and I love him (I recently told him that I think he is a great guy, and he asked if I was drunk). Yep, he’s still my buddy.

I’m better prepared for his departure this year, but I’m sure it will get me. I already know I’ll miss terribly the time we spend together watching Dodger games or football games. Or comparing fantasy football lineups or just talking about track times or baseball scores or the things that really matter or nothing at all. And I’ll miss the “completeness” that is missing from our family when one of us is away. There is a certain dynamic that happens when Beth, Sid, Sam and I are all together. It’s special to us, and we all feel it, but it’s different when a piece is missing and the unit is not intact.

Okay, maybe I’m being I wimp. He’ll only be a little more than an hour’s drive away. He’s not back east somewhere. And he’s assured us he’ll be coming home a lot more on weekends this year.

And he’s not really fully moving this week, since he’ll be with us for our upcoming family vacation and for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (another crazy and wonderful family tradition).

Actually, I’m fine, and still very proud. And I’m thrilled for Sid. I just know I’ll be sad when the Dodgers come on TV and the recliner next to me is empty.

Already, I can’t wait for him to be home, and he hasn’t even left yet.


me said...

I so relate. I already anticipate the day my Mr. Big leaves the nest and he's only 5 years old! Nice blog.

G of P

Anonymous said...

Ouch...bittersweet and beautiful.

gaginsburg said...

Great thoughts. Five miles (for me and Katie) might as well be 5000, but I know it will be so much fun for her.