I mean. Wow.
OK, hold on. Let me backtrack for a minute here.
So, you know the story, it’s totally old news. When I was around your age life hit me hard with a weird thing, a knock on death’s door that sent me off in a direction I didn’t expect to go right when I was ready to blaze out of college and set the world on fire.
Something like that, anyway.
I wasn’t tempting fate, the way you so often seem to do, when the car hit me, I was just riding my bike home from work. It didn’t seem fair at all, I was so young and (mostly) innocent and really just minding my own business that evening.
When I was finally back on my feet I think I was looking for some kind of cosmic compensation, like I thought I should be gifted with something for having survived an ordeal that was just totally suck city and entirely uncalled for. Maybe a minor superpower or a new car, a book contract, something really awesome.
And you know what? Now, at 53, I see that I did get something truly great. I got to keep living; I got to have an ordinary life. All these decades later I get it. I get now just how great that is, the incredible wonderfulness of an ordinary life.
These past few days Coco and I have been just loving living here inside your life: seeing the places where you eat, work, study and play. Seeing you move through your world here, flow, really, in your supercool car, on a skateboard, with your fantastic friends. Everywhere we go there seems to be someone who knows you, someone who appears out of nowhere and says, “Hey Sam.”
We came here to surprise you for your birthday, and you know, I thought a lot about that. Twenty-three isn’t a milestone birthday or anything, not like the twenty-one your brother turned last week or the thirteen your sister turned last winter. It’s just another birthday, right? I wondered if it was a good idea to travel across the country to celebrate just another regular birthday with you.
Of course it was and is. Because these are the things that are everything in life: another birthday, another day, good people to spend those days with, satisfying work, living in a beautiful place.
And let me tell you, Sam, you’ve totally nailed it on all those fronts. Everything about this place is nothing like Vermont, but one doesn’t get homesick here at all. Because, man, this place is amazing. You picked an amazing place to live out your days. And you have built a life here at a young age, when a lot of people are floundering like crazy, an admirable life, already. I am in awe, and I would fly ten thousand miles to see and feel and know the things I have seen and felt and come to know about you in your world these past few days.
Twenty-three really is just another birthday, right? And then again it isn’t. It tells me that you are moving further into adulthood, which you are, paying your own bills, holding a job while you study and making time to do a lot of really fun things, too. Coco and I totally descended on your life, and still you’ve been so generous with your time, checking in throughout the day, going with us to the beach, hanging out in the house where we’re staying, eating meals together, just catching up with each other, being together.
It will be hard to leave today, Sam, not because I have that protective Mom thing going on and I want to take care of you; clearly you don’t need that. Just because you’re doing this living thing so well and it’s the best, the best, to see it, to know it. Someone at dinner last night said it … you always land on your feet, and it’s true. You fly and swirl and jump and twirl, and you always land on your feet. It’s fantastic. It’s Wow.
Thanks for being my son, Sam. You are an extraordinary young man doing ordinary life so beautifully. Happy birthday, my Autumnal Equinox boy. And thank you. Thank you for gracing this world with everything that you are. I will miss hearing your arrival from a mile away, miss that unique Sam’s car sound that I have always loved, that tells me you’re on your way. But you are on your way. And it is profoundly beautiful in all the ways that matter.
I love you so very much,