A piece of my attention is always here.
Michelle used to get angry with me when I would say “my grandchildren” referring to my Son Jesse’s two girls, Kylie and Peyton. “They are OUR grandchildren.” Kylie and Peyton are just a few years younger than their Aunt Mikaela and Uncle Matthew, our other kids.
The entire “mess” that is my lifetime lineage is not a very shocking American story any longer.
Jesse was born when I was twenty years of age into a relationship that was struggling to say the least. It was probably both of us that were unfit for one another, but I know I was a mess, so I’ll take the lion’s share of responsibility. I had, literally, not a clue what I really wanted in life and it would be another six years before I would find a path. In those six years I ran. I hid.
I pretended he didn’t exist while thinking of him and his mother every day. I tried to avoid thinking of them which is the surest way to think of nothing else. What is that saying? That which you resist you become? Me a father? Nah!
Years later Michelle and I adopted our twins who are so lucky to have a brother in Round Rock, TX.
And he is lucky to have the most wonderful wife, Hilary, who keeps in touch and helped arrange this visit. I couldn’t wait and hoped that Michelle would have a moment with them as she did with Cindy, a moment of peace and clarity, because this is the end of the family reunion and the beginning of taking our time getting home, visiting parks and site seeing the great Southwest. And with the wheelchair, I’m envisioning a wonderful journey taking perhaps two weeks.
From this point forward we have no Purpose, as we have so far.
Jesse helps me get her—in the wheelchair—up the drive and the couple of steps and the moment fills my heart.
We visited Round Rock just a couple years earlier, just before Covid, and everyone looks about the same, still full of life and bright as all lights. I feel completely welcomed and Michelle gets all the attention she will need. She starts walking and trilling.
Kylie and Peyton are all grown up and I marvel at what a wonderful family they are. My contribution has been small, and I know that and I’m sure the way I feel is different than how Hilary’s parents feel about their granddaughters, but I love them and feel that has to be enough.
Mo, naturally, makes friends with everyone even their little pup and settles right on the cushion Hilary provides, quickly learning the couches are off limits.
Jesse has a high stress job and never gets to fully disconnect. He is a master at shifting gears, however, and I see him field a tough call with one of his restaurant managers and then deftly go back to the smoker and our slow cooking dinner. It’s a marvelous creation, this dinner, and I learn about Chacuterie which I assume is a pupu platter or Antipasto (rube) and Queso (delicious!) and feel like a Californian and get laughed at a lot which is wonderful.
I kick the ball back and forth with Peyton who has finals the next day but takes a break to practice her skills. She plays the same defensive position Mika played and now is learning Keeper. She’s good and this, more than anything, feels so real to me, it is something I do now, coaching soccer, and I see her skills and imagine her as one of my players and I wish she were!
I toss the keys of the Bus to Jesse and he takes Kylie for a brief spin around the neighborhood. He reminds me that owning one of these was his dream as well and that we even looked at them up in Ashland, did some research. Vague memories come back to me and I recall some advice from my mechanic to get one made later than 1965. I done good.
Kylie is off to University and we have to say goodbye and it happens so quickly, though I was warned, but so much is going on in this lively house. I’ll miss her as she rushes out to meet her friends. I forget to take photos!
Michelle, later, is a bit agitated but not too bad and I sit beside her on the couch and put my arm around her as we watch Dazed and Confused, at least watch bits and pieces of it. For a moment we are just a couple, she falls silent and looks forward, perhaps at the screen, perhaps just at thoughts, I don’t know, but she is calm and warm, and I love this moment because we have shared many moments like this over the years, sitting beside one another and watching a movie or television. We always had similar tastes in entertainment.
The film leaves me both dazed and confused because it depicts an era very close to my high school years, the years just before I met Jesse’s mother, but my experience was literally nothing like this, nothing. I think this might be what high school was like in the suburbs, but the inner city was an entirely different matter.
I come away thinking that my totally messed up teen years were much better off than these kids in the movie and there is Jesse and his family, the living proof of it.