Day One: Father – Son Tradition
The last several days with the excessive coverage of the George Zimmerman trial, my son’s recent eighteenth birthday and the fact that I am quickly closing in on the BIG 50 caused me to take a look at life from a different perspective. I realize that is saying a lot for those of you who really know me. You all can attest that it is routine for me to look at life from a different perspective.
This time however given the Nation’s obsession with discussing every aspect of the death of a young man and the loss that his parents are suffering, I thought that I should do something to make sure that I create some tradition that I can share with my son. One perspective that I will never lose is the one that reminds me that tomorrow is not promised. So, if my son was taken away from me, I want to be able to say and reflect on as many lasting memories as we can possibly create while we are both present and accounted for.
Moreover, my perspective is a bit different as my son, unlike his high school classmates, who will all be attending college in the U.S. mostly in the Midwest, has opted to return to Brazil to pursue his professional soccer dreams. His pursuit does not include fall breaks, winter breaks, spring breaks, etc. His journey has one destination and it does not include the intentions to return to the U.S.
Traditionally, father’s and son’s go fishing, hiking, camping or perhaps to a college sporting event with their sons. None of those are options for my son and me. Doing anything outside where insects and rodents are crawling around is never going to work. Sleeping in a location that doesn’t say four star feels like a camping trip. And as for sporting events, the only sport that he really has passion about sitting as a spectator would be the one he plays. As there are no major soccer games occurring at the moment, we chose to do something else to create a father-son annual tradition.
Bold and Daring
My ultimate travel experience – besides the one where I move to Bora Bora and live in an over the water bungalow with a glass bottom floor – is to arrive at the airport without any luggage and no destination in mind. Then I want to simply look at the departure board, find a location that appeals to me, purchase a first class ticket and fly to that destination. No return date, no luggage…no problem.
Regrettably today, I can’t do that so instead we did what was for us the next best thing. We looked on-line at the Megabus schedule. Yes, we boarded a bus. Picked a destination that was appealing to us and bought two tickets. First stop Nashville. Next stop, not confirmed but I will report back tomorrow.
No Wonder America is the Second Fattest Nation
The Megabus stopped just outside of Louisville for dinner. Where did we stop? I will give you one guess. We stopped at a truck stop that was adjoined by a McDonalds and a Subway of course. As I looked around the convenience store inside the truck stop along with the McDonalds and Subway, it was reinforced for me that no matter what America says about Healthcare Reform, America has no intention of ever having a health population.
I won’t even bother telling you about the menu at McDonalds. As for the Subway menu, I know we generally think of Subway as healthy but as I examined the 6 inch veggie sub on honey wheat bread that I ordered, I realized the sub was not that nutritious. The bread contained the greatest number of calories 260 and the amount of calories the vegetables provided was almost negligible. In essence, I had a bread sandwich with mustard. One fourth of my caloric intake was made up of bread and mustard and I am one who considers himself a healthy eater. Fortunately, I was able to find some fresh bananas, apples and oranges hidden in the convenience store. Luckily for me there were plenty of bananas, apples and oranges as no one else seemed to be interested in finding them much less eating them.
Trayvon Martin May Be Gone But He Is Not Forgotten
Sadly Trayvon isn’t among the living but thoughts and discussions of him continue. As we were approaching the arrival point in Nashville, several of the African-American patrons were discussing the trial. They weren’t adding anything new to the National debate but they were bemoaning the loss of life.
Out of nowhere a voice loud and proud exclaimed, “I’m glad George Zimmerman was acquitted”. The person who uttered those words made some additional remarks but I can’t tell you what he said. I was too busy bracing myself for the fight that I expected to break out. I put my seat-belt on, held on to the arm rest and anticipated the worst.
A white man pleased about the verdict and a group of African American’s lamenting the loss of a young man was more than the price of the Megabus ticket. Thankfully, no one said anything else. It was as if both sides realized that they were treading dangerously outside the gates of a crossroad that would be difficult if not impossible to return. Cooler heads prevailed and we were soon able to get off the bus.
Big Phyllis – Little Phyllis
As Naeem and I were preparing to board the bus, we were approached by a lady named Phyllis. Phyllis was putting her eighteen year old niece whose named just happened to be Phyllis also on the bus by herself. For the purposes of this story, I will refer to the aunt as Big Phyllis and the niece as Little Phyllis
Big Phyllis saw me, approached me and asked me to keep an eye out for her niece. Until that very moment, I had never met either Big or Little Phyllis but I took my orders seriously. I wrote my name and number on a piece of paper and gave it to Big Phyllis before the bus departed. I knew Little Phyllis had a phone but I wanted her aunt to have another way to contact her in the event something unplanned occurred.
As I was instructed, I kept an eye out for Little Phyllis. When she went into the rest room, I stood watch until she came out. When she order her sub, I watched intently. Naeem and I sat at the table behind her after our subs were complete. On the bus, I sat in a location that allowed me to keep an eye on her and Supaman.
I was vigilant in my new-found responsibility. I was honored to look out for Little Phyllis. So many times over the last year, I have watched my son get on a plane and fly 6,000 miles by himself to live among people whom I don’t know. My discomfort made me keenly sensitive to Big Phyllis’s plight.
More than just wanting to show karmic appreciation for my son’s safe travels, it felt good to know that someone found me to appear caring and trusting enough to look out for the well-being of their child. The whole scene was an old school flash back to days when I was a child and the adults in my community embraced the responsibility for not only caring for me but for raising me and all the other children in the neighborhood.
I’m not sure how much Little Phyllis appreciated my looking out after her because of what probably felt like a stalker who would not let her out of his sight. Nonetheless, I did what I promised. I know what it is to really love a child and something unfortunate happening to Little Phyllis was not going to happen under my watch. Little Phyllis was not going to be the story on the nightly news and I was not going to be the dumbfounded witness who stood by and watched something unfortunate occur.
So, I kept a watchful eye and I wouldn’t leave her side until her ride arrived and I had received a call from her aunt, Big Phyllis. I even had the pleasure of speaking with Little Phyllis’s mom. Little Phyllis’s phone battery died and my phone was the only way her mom or aunt were able to contact her. As it turns out Little Phyllis’s ride was late and her aunt and mom needed to speak to her. Although, she never said it, I believe Little Phyllis was happy to have had me hanging around.
Man Am I Getting Old
When we got off the bus, I was shocked. I thought the bus had dropped us off in front of a corner where ladies of the night work. I was ready to cover my son’s eyes when he informed me that we were parked in front of a night club. “A night club”, I exclaimed! No way, not the way those young women were dressed. Thank God that I didn’t have a daughter. My daughter might never be permitted to leave the house. Man am I getting old!
Objects On The GPS May Be Further Than They Appear
According to the Google Maps, the distance to the Nashville Renaissance Hotel was only 4/10ths of a mile. I figured 4/10ths of a mile was too short of a distance to take a cab so I convinced my son that we should walk. Besides we had been sitting for four plus hours on the bus so the short walk would help stretch our legs or so I thought.
Surprisingly, Google Maps was wrong and what was supposed to be a short walk to stretch out our legs turned into a mini marathon. Without registering for the lengthy walk or having the goal of supporting some worthy charity, we found ourselves sweating profusely as we carried our back pack and rolled our luggage. We walked so much in the steamy grueling Southern night, up and down the streets of downtown Nashville, that I thought for a brief moment – we might as well have gone camping and hiking. And then we arrived at the hotel and reality was restored.
That’s All Folks
That’s it for today. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition of “Every Father and Son Should Have a Tradition.
What traditions are you establishing with your child?