We travel every night. I’ve been dreaming these trips ever since we moved back to Georgia, every night, over and over.
We go alone, or with family or strangers, sometimes with our kids, sometimes with the dog or with lots of dogs.
We travel in an RV or a bus. Or a car or a train or a plane or a submarine amphibious thing that we rent. Occasionally the highway becomes a roller coaster and we start to panic but decide to try it anyway and you know what, it’s fine.
Once there was this enormous spacecraft shaped like a pod with all these portals all around and – but I think we ended up needing to hang glide home which is weird with my thing about heights.
We always travel at night except for when it’s in the day or when it’s somehow both at once.
We stop and run into art stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, little places that serve quick food. We stop and visit people, or we go to incredible junk yards made of mountains and industry and trees. Sometimes we stop to enroll in classes, or we’re in art shows or we’re at big conferences or sprawling abandoned shopping malls. We go see movies. We walk up stairs and eat mexican food on terraces, we look at all different houses and apartments for sale or rent. The homes we look at are always interesting and sprawling, with rooms we wouldn’t discover unless we moved in. Sometimes we stop and look at nothing interesting at all, just offices or motel rooms. Doesn’t matter. I like going and I like being with you.
Sometimes we get lost on the highway a little bit or turn off onto a dark country road that worries us. But I’m never scared; we aren’t running from anything or frantic at all; even when there are tornadoes in the distance or the train breaks down, it’s always clear that we will be okay.
But this is a Father’s Day thing so I shouldn’t wander off talking about our constant non-conscious trips to Dallas and London and Southern Egypt via Cloudbridge (that one was very exciting, I think we prevented a war and everything). The traveling dreams are all about something that I feel but can’t articulate when I’m awake. They’re here in this post because wherever it is we’re trying to go every night, lately it feels like we’re nearly there.
So this year. Big, wasn’t it? Massive! Colossal!
Feels like we’ve both hit some kind of stride with the kids. There are still exhausting days but in general something’s easier, better, less stressed than ever. Did it really take us ten years to get the hang of parenting? Or is it simply that the boys are a little bit older now, they can read and pour milk and no one ever gets poop on the walls?
Now that I think about it there’s remarkably little poop in our lives right now. At 7 and 10, kids are able to handle all bathroom business discreetly without ever having to bellow “I NEED HELP WIPING.”
I’m not saying that all of our stresses in recent years were feces related, just saying that it didn’t help. And now that we aren’t spending so much time wiping things, we have extra time and energy to put into other things.
You put a lot of that surplus into hanging out with your boys. That’s good because these are the last few years where they won’t think you’re an idiot.
It’s also good because you are amazing at talking to kids this age. You can be stern, but then you can pull back and be sympathetic and then top it all off with a burp joke. You’re the good and the bad cop in one. It’s a skill that even Full House-era Bob Sagat would admire and it’s so important now that we’re out of the “NO don’t put that in your mouth” stage of parenting. Their phases are more complicated now. They need guidance and coping suggestions and humor.
And help using metal detector to find a lost arrow.
They look up to you so much. You’re on their island. The older they get the more they are sure that you are the cool one. That’s okay with me. I have no illusions about my coolness in the eyes of people who think Bear Grills is awesome for climbing mountains and eating bugs.
I know the year wasn’t perfect in grownupville. Moving is always terrible, we had a bunch of expensive stuff happen all at the same time, you work at a job that’s somewhat soul-sucking and exhausting. Your poor, good-hearted old truck finally died. I’m harried and disorganized and building a business is hard. It was a slow year even though it seemed like I was working all the live-long day.
But mostly this is the kind of year that scares me because how dare I have such a perfect life? If I’d been able to put into words everything I hoped the year would be like, this pretty much would be it.
1. We moved into a house architected to represent my brain in physical form. This took a huge leap on your part, and I know if you lived alone you’d be on a little bitty houseboat on a river somewhere. This was a gift entirely for the kids and I.
2. We completed our food chain.
3. We expanded our collection of like minded parents and friends who are fun to hang out with. This is huge. The ultimate introvert family goes social! It’s been really good for all of us.
4. I cooked a lot in my magical kitchen (on my magical Craigslist stove with FOUR working burners), although we still ate out too much. Sorry I love eating out so much. I blame the restaurants for making it feel like a tiny vacation.
5. CANOE! CANOE FOR YOU.
6. On the business front, I took a step back to fix some things. Launched a new website, redesigned flashcard artwork, new shirts, cat books, etc. We set up a bigger office in the dining room and generally got everything organized like I’m a real person with a real company.
7. Your work schedule means you work 13-hour days. That sucks! But then you have days off. That rocks! I know it’s an exhausting work week but it has made it easier to include you in our school stuff and the boys love the heck out of that.
How the universe expands.
How air pressure works.
How science museums trick us into giving them all our money.
8. The boys set up the kind of lab and metalsmithing workshop they’ve always envisioned.
9. We did lots of this
and things like this
I’m told this is a playground for squirrels, who thankfully do not have any knowledge of litigation and liability insurance.
And the boys — look at our boys. WE BUILT THAT. This year they’ve both evened out and we can see who they’re going to be when they each grow up (Spoiler: The same exact people they’ve been since they were born). They have cranky days but at their cores they are both confident, articulate, funny, creative, kind hearted, nurturing guys. They ask sprawling questions, they think and play and invent and test and try and don’t give up.
If you ever doubt your influence, just look at the kind of things they buy with their allowance.
Look at how they take care of each other when one of them is sick, how gentle they are with animals.
Look how hard they work to overcome things like shyness.
Look at what good judges of character they both are. No offense to any of my friends but they did not inherit that from me. I like everyone, even jerks. If the kids they’ve chosen as friends are any indication, man. This next generation is going to be amazing.
So you always ask me “So what’s the plan for today?” and then you get a little exasperated because you don’t care what the plan is, you just want to KNOW what the plan is except that my brain cannot know the plan until it is almost already happening. What’s the plan?
I can scheme. I can brainstorm better than anybody in the competitive brainstorming world. I can spot holes in a heist or suggest strategy and direction.
But when it’s time to work out a plan it’s hard for me to think beyond right now. Most of the time lately I’m plenty happy doing whatever it is we’re already doing. I don’t need much except for you and the boys and a dog and a comfortable couch or front porch. Okay, fast internet. Crushed ice from QT. But that’s it.
This right here, this is the plan. I’m sorry, and thank you, and I love you so damned much.