Friday, November 4, 2016

Fall, Part Four

The ten minutes in the morning as Sam, Pete, and I wait for the bus is perhaps the only truly uninterrupted block of time where I have their complete and undivided attention. This is less a commentary on our busy our lives are or how my work schedule overlaps with key moments in their day, either getting ready for school in the morning or getting everyone ready for bed in the evening, running them through baths or showers, brushing teeth, getting them into bed. When we are at home there are a lot of natural distractions; They'd much rather play legos or Pokemon than listen to me. I can't really blame them. They're kids after all, and though they seemingly wither like houseplants deprived of the sun when I am not around, when I am around, I am a suggestion, and yet they seemingly derive comfort from my mere presence.

A few mornings ago, we talked about volcanoes. This morning, I explained to them how the NFL was organized and how CenturyLink Field -- the home of the Seattle Seahawks -- was the loudest stadium in the league. I told them about 'home field advantage' and the '12th man'. Sam was tickled.

"It's because they're used to the cheering, right?"

"No! It's because the fans are on the same side as the Seahawks and get quiet when they have the ball, but then get really loud when the other team has the ball so they can't hear each other on the field."

"Oh, yeah!" Sam suppressed a giggle behind a closed fist.

I told the boys this morning that fall was my favorite season. Pete agreed. Sam likes spring. We all like the cooler weather. There are not a lot of different ways to walk from our house to the bus stop at the end of our street. It's pretty much a straight shot, but yesterday morning, I walked them a block down a side street to look at some especially beautiful fall leaves.

I feel it important to point out these things to them, like especially beautiful trees. When they were babies, I pointed out to them the moon, airplanes, helicopters, mountains, snow, jeeps, the ocean. I guess I never stopped. I once read that what makes a photograph memorable is not the physical photograph itself but the mental decision to take the photograph, that what you are looking at is worth cataloging or capturing for posterity. Likewise, maybe they will remember these things that I think it is important for them to remember because I take the time to stop and point them out to them. Maybe they won't remember the fall leaves, but will remember their father making them walk the wrong way to the bus stop to look at the fall leaves.

Fall -- like spring -- is a season of transition. It is a season that ends summer and ushers in winter. Summer dies in fall, and fall is a season of decay. Leaves loose their verdant greens. In the throes of death they scream brilliant colors before wrinkling and dying. I can imagine an earlier time when there were just animals and early, native civilizations thinking the world was ending. If you didn't know that after winter, spring would come and warm the earth, you could imagine fearing the world was slowly dying.

Many seem to still think the world is ending. The climate surrounding the current election has many thinking that regardless who wins, the world will end. In this day and age, in order to be heard, one has to scream, and there a lot of people screaming. You have to ratchet up the rhetoric and paint things in cataclysmic terms in order to illicit a response. To them, I say relax. The world is not ending. Winter is coming, but it is not the end. Spring will come, too.

The morning was blustery and crisp. When we got to the corner, wind was whoosing leaves out of the trees. They were falling like rain, and Peter and Clementine held their arms above their heads, wheeling amidst them, completely carefree.

I envied their obliviousness.

The election isn't the only thing making Elise and I nervous.

We are supposed to know where we are going by now. The key words here are 'supposed to'. As you can probably guess by now, we don't. Many of our friends and colleagues learned of their next jobs. We were supposed to find out on Monday, October 31 . Halloween. How apropos.

But, alas, Halloween came and went, and no email sending us off to some far-flung corner of the globe arrived in my inbox. I could bore you with the countless details and a thousand reasons why we haven't heard anything yet, but I won't. None of that is really all that important anyway, and when we do finally learn what the next two to three years holds for us, none of us will remember the daily ups and downs that came before the big reveal.

But there have been daily ups and downs.

Yesterday, the microwave at my office was broken, so I had to eat my dinner cold. I have an app on my phone that tells me when the next train is arriving. When I left my office building at a quarter after nine, the app told me the next Orange Line train would be at Foggy Bottom in ten minutes, so I ran the 1/2 mile to the train station only to discover the next train wasn't coming for another fifteen minutes. I ended up sweating like a pig with nothing to show for it. When I got home, I stubbed my toe on the basement stairs. We were out of beer.

But today, I called Apple iTunes service and was able to -- not only get a refund on two movies I had rented that never downloaded -- but also receive two more rentals free. When I got to work, someone from Venice, Florida called me to tell me I won a coupon for an all-expense paid trip for two to South Africa.

Ups and downs.

I interviewed for a job in the Philippines I would not get. We're back to the drawing board. There is something strangely liberating about going back to square one. I remember feeling the same thing when we hadn't received an assignment bidding out of India. The whole world is our oyster again.

For now, I try to focus on enjoying the fall, because this time next year, there may be no fall where we are. 

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