Weddings, Aging and Connectedness

Today I felt the flash of age.

My nephew, Sean, and his fiancée, Jenn, married in a beautiful Scottish-tinged ceremony. The two already have a charming baby named Zachary, and I expect that they will have a happy and successful life together. Sean is partial to lighthouses, so my brother-in-law drew the ancient Pharos lighthouse at Alexandria and gave it to them as a wedding present. It was a touching scene.

Sean and Jenn Carr.  Pharos lighthouse drawing copyright Steven D. Halsey.

The reception was at Karen’s in the Country, and the staff there did a fine job of keeping us all fed and happy. The Victorian decor somehow didn’t clash with Jenn’s father’s kilt. (That was cool!)

Sean, Jenn, and Zachary, I wish you the best. You have all the tools to make a successful life together, and I appreciate you inviting me into your lives. I’m sure my brother would be very proud of you and his grandson.

So, what about that age thing I mentioned at the top of this entry?

While at the reception, I experienced the same giddy, the-world-is-falling-out-from-under-me feeling that I used to get as a kid when I dared to speculate about the size of the universe. It came on me suddenly, and might have been helped by the sangria we drank during the best man’s toast, but it was definitely the same feeling. As I watched my nephew dancing with his wife, and saw the bridesmaid carry young Zachary up to them, I realized that they were living a part of my life that has passed. My son will never be Zach’s age again, and I’m not likely to ever be married again. More than that, I remember the handsome young man on the floor as an infant, and I wonder how he grew up so fast.

Why, then, does this feel exactly like my childhood giddiness? Certainly I wasn’t old then. Perhaps what I’m labeling as age is actually a feeling of connectedness. Back then, as I contemplated how large the universe was, I was overwhelmed. That was partly because of the sheer vastness, and partly because I seemed so insignificant in it. But maybe I read that flash of insight wrong; maybe instead of feeling disconnected from the universe, I was feeling a connection to something vital. Maybe I was getting a flash of understanding about what it means to be part — however insignificant — of the universe.

And maybe, at the reception, I was getting a flash of understanding about what it means to be part of a family.

Doing Crunches — metaphorically, anyway

Today is a crunch day before my presentation at my company’s quarterly manager’s meeting. I’m not nervous; I expect more of a discussion than a presentation, actually. Saturday, I’m taking my son to the airport so he can go see his Mom for a month.

I have mixed emotions about that. I’m glad because he will be seeing his mother and rebuilding a relationship that has some pretty serious gaps, and I’m glad to have some time to fill some of the gaps in my own life during the time he’s gone. But I’m also sad that he won’t be there when I go home for a month. I hope he e-mails me occasionally.

The day after that, I’m going to Las Vegas with my wife and stepson. I’m taking a laptop along, but I may not get many chances to update this journal (or, for that matter, be creative) while I’m gone. I guess it depends on how much money we lose at the casinos. Hah!

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day

My name is Edward Andrew, and I’m six years old.

You lie in the wheeled bed, puffy and pale
Riding the waves of morphine
(or is it Bartlett Lake?)
I help the illusion along.

Howdy howdy there, friends and neighbors!
This is El Monte Slim f’m El Monte Slim Chev’rlet …

A cough chokes you back awake,
Fear and confusion cloud your eyes
No, don’t speak; I point to the tube
You say goodbye with your eyes.

… I wait for delivery each day until three,
Oh Lord, woncha buy me a color TV?

A simple flick of the switch and my decision is final.
A few shuddering, spasmodic breaths and it is done.
You expire at my side, hand in my hand, my
Tears exposed in the glare of my own inadequacy.

See ya at the beach, Bro.

— Stace Johnson, 1997