American Past Time - $15.00

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American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leaving Home



My son is 24 and technically he moved out of the house six years ago (the picture shown here was taken at that time.) But he went to college at U of Chicago and then worked in Chicago for the last two years so he was never far away. Always dropping in to do his laundry.

But right now I am in a Starbucks on 3rd Avenue and 14th Street (they charge for their internet service here) and Stephen is standing in line to get his photo ID. Tomorrow he starts his Chem PhD program at NYU. Five years in New York. I’ve been here about five hours and it’s already wearing me out. But he’s excited. When I was his age I moved from New York to Chicago so there is sort of an odd symmetry going on, I guess.

When my wife Suzanne and I loaded up our van and made the drive to the midwest in the summer of 1974, I expected that after she finished law school we would return home. But we never did. Just visits at Christmas and a week or two in the summer. Chicago became our home. But we didn’t know that then, and that made it easier to settle into a strange place. It was only temporary.

Okay I was about to post the blog when my computer ran out of power. I hadn’t used up my two hours of Starbucks internet, either. So now it’s a day later and I have driven upstate to my Mom’s house in Skaneateles.

Last night Stephen and I went to Lion King. I’m certain we were the only adult father and son group in the place. There was no symbolism involved. I was being magnanimous and let Stephen choose. That was a mistake. Never ask a Chem major to pick the entertainment. The crowd of teenage girls and little kids loved the show, but for us it was a good thirty minute show that they stretched out for 2 hours and forty-four minutes. And both of us were really hungry after all that moving-in exercise. We raced out as soon as the curtain dropped and had large ribeyes at Frankie & Johnny’s Steakhouse.

After the late dinner we took the subway back. My hotel was two stops before Stephen’s apartment. As I got ready to get off he thanked me for driving him out and helping him move in. I told him I was expecting him to take care of Suzanne and me when we got old and he said he would try help when we got old(er), but he wasn’t expecting to make a lot of money so maybe Suzanne should keep working. (I don’t think he’s figuring on my novel becoming a blockbuster bestseller.) I gave him a pat on the back and told him not to work too hard. Then I waved to him as the train pulled out of the station, but he didn’t see me.

It wasn’t that hard to say goodbye. He’s in New York for five years. It’s just temporary. He’ll be back.

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