Sunday, December 23, 2012

The View Has Changed...

Train trestle at riverside park
When I was a kid, I’d sit here for hours looking at this train trestle from an overlook at our local park. As teenagers, it was a much visited place for kids drinking beer and smoking cigarettes (and still is, as evidenced by some poorly drawn graffiti). 

It seems that little has changed since the days of my youth, or for that matter my father's. My dad and his friends would go out on the trestle, some even deciding to test their fate and cross it.

Recently I took a trip down to the park.  Making my way down the old familiar path, the trestle seemed farther away, the overlook much higher.  I took a few steps back and watched a wayward pebble roll off the cliff and plunge downwards, bouncing off of the rocks below.  They really need to fence this off, I actually thought to myself, not unlike a worried grandmother. When did this happen?

When did I become mortal?  Is it age catching up with me, just the normal progression of growing older and, ahem, wiser?  Was it when I found out I was becoming a dad, my protective instincts fine tuning themselves?  Maybe it's a little bit of both.  In the many months since finding out my wife is pregnant, I've noticed that the world seems like a much more dangerous place.  Its edges much sharper, its peaks much steeper.  At times people can seem so harsh and cold.  Tragic stories seem to stay with me longer, and I begin to worry for the future.  I pay more attention to the little things these days, and as I've gotten older I've learned just how small of a piece of this enormous puzzle that I am.

My youthful exploits seem so far away, the wild nights used to bring with them excitement and thrill now seem so silly and stupid, not to mention a complete waste of time.  I'm by no means enlightened, but I look forward to mornings, enjoying a cup of coffee and a clear mind.  

Down the road, when I'm even older,the time may come when my son asks me about my younger years.  Perhaps he'll ask if I've ever broken curfew, skipped school, or maybe run from campus police through a bowling alley and spent the night in the drunk tank. I'll give him the wise and father look that I've already begun to practice, take a slow sip of coffee while I ponder his question, and say,

 "Son, have you seen your mother's tattoo?"  

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