I don’t venture into Portland too much; the simple fact is that I don’t need to. My work is further east and Rachel does most of our shopping; I’ll offer, but let’s face it, when it comes to groceries she can do in twenty minutes what takes me ninety. She’ll also bring home the essentials where I’m more inclined to load the cart with exotic cheeses, random spices and herbs, and oversized boxes of Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms.
However, this weekend I found myself making three round-trips to The Rose City. The first was on Thursday evening. Just as I was about to tuck in the kids, I hopped in the car and like the way of Horatio Alger and Davy Crockett. At 9:45 I picked up my friend Jerry from the airport. He was standing outside on the sidewalk holding a backpack and another roller-style suit case. Time’s been good to Jerry. He looks at least fifteen years younger than his age. I suspect it’s a combination of good genes, a decent diet, and years of enjoying the spoils of Las Vegas.
Jerry and I worked together for a couple years before he resigned and moved back to the 702 to take a different job closer to his family. He would commute every week and made Southwest Airlines a small fortune.
We got back to my house around 11:00 and tip-toed in. J.J. is still sleeping in the living room, which means after 8:30, our place is dark. And quiet. There’s really no other room in the house that lends itself to after-hours conversation or even snacking. That being said, I hit the sack (meaning the sofa) and caught some z’s before Friday.
Friday began with pancakes and followed with babysitting. Rachel went to work and Jerry and I watched the boys for the next few hours. Miles thinks the world of Jerry and throughout the weekend would randomly ask if Jerry was “going to stay another day”, “would be here in the morning”, or “would be here after my nap?” The weather this weekend was decent as well which always takes playtime with Miles to another level. You end up bouncing through activities like a racquetball on speed.
10:00 AM: Miles wants to play golf.
10:03 AM: Miles gets his golf bag.
10:07 AM: Miles wants to play with Daddy’s clubs.
10:09 AM: Miles pulls out nearly every club in Daddy’s bag.
10:12 AM: Miles pulls out several dozen tees and is placing them strategically in the yard. (I’m sure I
will find these with the lawnmower at a later date).
10:15 AM: Miles hits (at a minimum) three of my ProV1’s under the barn. Do the math. This is getting expensive.
10:16 AM; Miles wants to play basketball.
10:18 AM: Basketball hoop is brought outside.
10:20 AM: Miles announces that he’s “Brandon Roy”
10:21 AM: Miles announces that I’m “Ichiro”.
10:24 AM: Tired of basketball, Miles wants his guitar.
10:30 AM: Miles plays his guitar while standing on a trailer near the house. He calls it his “stage”.
10:34 AM: After a couple verses of Razor by The Foo Fighters, he insists that Jerry and I play along.
10:35 AM: More instruments are brought out.
10:39 AM: Back to golf.
10:44 AM: “I know! We could play baseball!”
10:46 AM: Jerry is running through the fundamentals of hitting like Tom Emanski.
10:49 AM: Miles jacks one to deep right-field. Opposite-field power. That’s my boy!
10:52 AM: Miles insists that the clothes-line posts could be used as a net for soccer.
10:53 AM: Soccer commences.
10:58 AM: Miles grabs a broom and runs to the creek. I had no idea where this was going either.
11:00 AM: Miles “paints” the water with his brush (see: broom n.)
11:05 AM: Miles throws golf balls for Edgar to chase and retrieve.
11:06 AM: Edgar keeps dropping golf balls in creek. Did I mention the creek is cold. Very cold.
11:08 AM: Jerry is laughing uncontrollably.
This goes on. For another two hours until Miles goes down for a nap.
It is at this point I whip up some lunch and I introduce Jerry to a) some new music b) failblog.org and c) the proper way to set up a fantasy baseball lineup.
At 4:30 PM, we’re on the road back to Portland. Jerry and I have tickets for an Evening with David Sedaris. One of our favorite writers, Sedaris is back in Portland to read from his new book, diary and take some questions from the audience. It’s, in Jerry’s words, “Outstanding.” That same word could (and was) used to describe our dinner. We found a little place called Podnah’s in Northeast Portland. I’ll sum it up like this:
Best. Ribs. Ever.
Saturday afternoon we pulled some kind of Jedi Mind Trick and convinced Rachel to let us bail for a few more hours and see Iron Man 2. I know that I’m 30, but I’m a sucker for comic-book movies. And, like millions of others, I loved the first film (yes, I said film -- not movie). What makes this better? How about coming home to home-made lasagna, Caesar Salad, french-bread and pie? Follow that up with a drive to the park for Miles and you’ve got an A+ Saturday.
Miles had taken a few new tennis-balls with him to the park and ended up playing long-toss with a kid three times his age from across the road. We watched with half-smiles on our faces as Miles and this kid just tossed the ball back and forth for a few minutes. That’s when Miles began his pep-talk to the other kid.
“Don’t throw it towards Edgar!”
“That’s a good throw!”
“Good throw, Sam!”
And that’s when Rachel and I look at each other and lose it. Apparently Miles decided to just assign this kid a name. And honestly, thank God it was “Sam.” Miles has named an imaginary dragon “Carl” and a stuffed dog has been dubbed “Digital.” So, Sam didn’t sound too bad. At this point, my bride chimed in, “Miles...ask him his name!”
Miles to Sam: “My name is Miles.”
Sam: Staring at Miles.
Rachel: “Ask him HIS name.”
Miles: “What’s your name?”
Me: Chin falls to chest. Eyes close. Exhale. Muttering: “Oh no.”
Lately, Miles has started the habit of calling me by my first name. I’ve told him that only two people in the world get to call me “Daddy” and that’s a pretty special honor. He doesn’t seem to care. In fact, its of little comfort when the first words out of his mouth the next morning are, “Daddy, I’m not calling you Josh!” Rachel has even caught him telling our baby-sitter that she’s not allowed to call me Josh. Only mommy can.
Catch at the park was followed by getting the boys to bed and then a screening of Crazy Heart, after which I introduced Jerry to two of my favorite TV shows: Community and 30 Rock. We were still laughing about lines of dialog from the show when I finally drove him to the airport this morning.
There are certain people who bum me out. Not while I’m with them, but after they leave. It’s not that I get depressed or anything, I just forget how much I miss their company. My buddy Scotty, for example. I see him once or twice a year if I’m lucky, and after we say so-long, I’m in a funk for a few hours. Doesn’t matter that I talk to him on the phone all the time. There’s just a few people who are just kind wired right. Jerry’s one of those guys.
I capped off my weekend by celebrating three of the greatest women I know. After dropping off Jerry in Portland, the boys and I drove to my parent’s place. Dad was grilling burgers and Miles watched intently as my mom opened her Mother’s Day gifts. Our visit was short and sweet. I wanted to get J.J. and Miles home before their naps. On that task I ended up batting .500. Miles made it, but I lost J.J. about ten minutes before I rolled into the driveway. After the kids woke up, I whipped up some Pad Thai.
Somewhere between a morning to herself and one of her favorite dinners, Rachel decided that this was one great Mother’s Day. Though I didn’t feel like we didn’t do anything all that special, I think that’s what does it sometimes. There’s moments through our days when nothing “outstanding” is really happening at all. And sometimes those moments, like the people who tend to be a part of them, wire themselves into our collective selves and create the best of days and even weekends.