On the first day of my 51st year, I headed out for an early morning run, and followed it up with a wonderful ride in the cool morning air on the Ducati. I couldn’t help thinking about what an intense week it had been.
This past Wednesday, after weeks of furious preparations, we dropped our one and only son off at Marquette University to begin his freshman year. We dutifully lined up with our carts full of supplies, bags strapped on every appendage, and mashed into the elevator for our journey to the 17th floor of his dormitory. A cacophony of wobbling wheels, dropped boxes and overly agitated collegiate students provided the backdrop to our mission to move him in. Since his roommate had not yet arrived, we took the liberty of helping him arrange the furniture. Look! I know we are supposed to just let go, but the room was so full of boxes, desks, tables, suitcases, clothes and supplies, that something had to be done. There was only a single four foot by three foot empty bit of floor space. I convinced Connor that we should seize the moment, and move things at least into some semblance of organization. Like solving that little 15-square puzzle game, also called the Mystic Square, utilizing the empty tile space to shuffle the other pieces into order, we made our plan of attack and completed our furniture ballet with nary a dent nor scratch. Shortly after, Nolan and family arrive, and we bid a hasty retreat. Although he is completely ready to be on his own, I felt a notable extra squeeze to his parting hug.
This past Friday, I celebrated turning 50 years old. Yes, it is that mark of all marks, a half century down! I am sure the mailbox is stuffed with AARP applications right now. Still a bit stunned and exhausted from sending Connor off, I think I pretty much have stumbled through the 50-mark. Not really ignoring it, but more or less just wandering past it in a bit of a daze. I did reflect a bit as I ran and rode this morning, taking stock and for some reason, was stuck on the healthy, wealthy and wise promise of being an early riser. Healthy? Most certainly! Other than the occasional irritated calf muscle strained while running, or the slightly wacky eyesight that has forced me to buy some driving goggles, I am overjoyed at moving into my second half-century feeling absolutely great. Wealthy? Indeed. I continue to be blessed with family and friends that would put George Bailey to shame. I was aptly reminded of this over this past week and wish to thank you all. Wise? Hmmm … well, I suppose I have my moments, and my failings. Just a couple of days ago, traveling on a business trip and realizing only moments before I needed to be ready for a business meeting that I had forgotten my toothpaste, I did my best MacGyver survey of the room. The options were bleak, and it came down to the soap; a very unwise decision. When I was young, I obviously never had my mouth washed out with soap, for I would absolutely remember THAT taste. It still makes me shudder to think about it.
As I ponder these two major events, separated by only a day, I can’t help but feel the sense of loss for Connor as a child, and for youth. I have to come to terms with the fact that he is an adult, very well equipped to take on the next phase of his life, and celebrate his accomplishments. I also have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot purchase any new vehicles, clothing, or do anything out of the ordinary for the next decade, for I will be shunned for having some type of mid-life crisis. Most of all, even though I want to linger and reminisce about both of these pasts, it is pointless. Ladies and gentlemen, in both cases, Elvis has most definitely left the building! It is time to see what comes next.