My child arrived just the other day/he came to the world in the usual way/But there were planes to catch and bills to pay/ he learned to walk while I was away/And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it and as he grew/He'd say "I'm gonna be like you Dad/You know I'm gonna be like you."
"Cats in the Cradle" — Harry Chapin
Kerry stood by the window, looking outside, just hoping for a thunderstorm.
"Think we'll get lightning tonight, Dad?" he asked me.
I was knee deep in something — homework, work, trying to figure out how to rob Peter to pay Paul — something, anywhere but on lightning storms.
My mind did a quick shift: "Well, the weather forecast is calling for the possibility of storms, so there's definitely a chance," my overly Spock-like response came back.
"I sure hope we do," he said as he stood there in nothing but his boxer shorts. It was getting on his bedtime and somewhere along the way, he'd abandoned the idea of pajamas in favor of nothing but his skivvies as bedtime attire.
Leaning over from my desk-chair, I put my chin on his shoulder and peered out into the night sky with him. The dark night betrayed nothing of the clouds that may have been lurking unseen by our upward-looking eyes. Kerry turned his head ever so slightly.
"I know, Dad," he almost whispered into my ear, "let's check the Weather Channel and see if anything is coming."
We popped over to my computer and did a quick jump from my online class to the Weather Channel's maps.
"Look at all that by Cheyenne," my son said, a tone of wonderment befitting an eight-year-old punctuating his voice.
"Which direction is it heading?" I somewhat rhetorically asked him. I knew, but I didn't want our conversation to end.
We sat and discussed the direction of the storm — was it going to hit the town west of ours or was it going to make a beeline for us? A few minutes more of talk about the impending storm and Kerry returned to the window, both his hands on the glass, framing his head, the rim of his glasses and his nose the only distance between his face and the cold window. I studied the weather map a little longer.
"Dad," Kerry said.
"Yeah, bub," I called back to him.
Writers, it's almost always about writers — I started calling Kerry "bub" a long time ago, because that's what one of my favorite writers, Hunter S. Thompson, called everyone — bub. And Kerry, that"s short for Kerouac, my favorite writer of all time.
"I'm gonna miss you," he said.
"I'm gonna miss you too," I said back to him as I raised my arms and did a "come here" motion my son long ago learned meant to get over here and give his old man a hug. I held him, that tiny body shaking with equal parts night-chill and lust of the world. Just under 24 hours from that moment I was going to take this wonderful piece of my life, drive him to Denver, put him on a plane, and send him to his mother, my wife, separated from me due to the wind-shifting vagaries of the current economics of the world, in San Diego. When I would see him again: a long time from now, longer than is reasonable or right but no matter, it's what the heavens have deemed necessary at this moment.
"Out-of-state Utah!" I yelled out as little man and I made our way to Denver and the waiting United Airlines flight that would take him to the other side of this country.