I wanted to post this the other day, but LJ had other plans, it seems...
Denver was spectacular. Sure, there were annoying family-type things to deal with (primarily because, while I share basic beliefs about parenting with my sister and my own parents, our methods are wildly different), but the worst arguments crested and dissapaited quickly. We are the, "Oh, fuck it, who wants pie?" family in many ways.
But Denver! Whoo! I really enjoyed the downtown area—an important thing, considering how deeply I've fallen in love with Indy's downtown—and paid a repeat visit to Ali Baba's Grill. They have the second-best lamb kabobs I've ever had.* Their staff is smart and welcoming. I could eat there again and again and again...
The odd thing is... I fell in love with the prairie.
Really, that isn't odd. It's downright bizarre. All my life I've longed to live in the mountains and spent tons of time hiking mountains. Now when I have the chance to really live in the mountains, I find myself drawn to the land east of Denver, where you can see damned near forever. I could concoct some reasonable-sounding motivation for it—after all, my love of mountains does not extend to a love of winter driving in mountains, especially in areas that require tire chains—but the truth is my mother and I drove east to look at some property and the open expanse took my breath away.
But the most important thing is I left Indiana with a child and came home with an adult.
It didn't hit me until the day after Dev's eighteenth birthday. My folks live on Buckley Air Force Base outside Denver (and man, if I could live on base I would in a heartbeat!). Going on base requires guests be escorted by someone with a military ID at all times, but after 9pm, it also requires any guests to have their own base-issued pass that involves a brief background check for criminal history and the like. Since Dev and I wanted to take in a movie without fearing the 9pm cutoff, we applied for a three-day pass.
I got my pass, then stepped aside so Dev could get his pass. For the first time, Dev had an official document processed without needing a parent or guardian. There was no need for me to give permission, sign a paper, answer a question—nothing. And, yes, that's when I got a little teary-eyed.
We did go off to the Movie Tavern, a theater where every seat is a recliner with a personal table, the menu includes everything from standard popcorn and soda to mango habanero chicken tacos and Long Island iced tea, and the food and drink are brought to you at the press of a button. We saw Big Hero 6, which we both deemed wonderful (and you MUST stay through the credits).
But the best part was the Disney short that came before the movie. Feast, the story of one dog's experience of his human's love life through the sharing of food, had me and my eighteen-year-old son in tears within a couple minutes. I wish I could show you the whole thing right now.
"He's like Gambit!" Dev said, sniffling and smiling at the same time. "You have to make kibble special!" (And that makes perfect sense once you know Gambit, our rescue dog, will wait patiently by a full food bowl until something—anything!—is drizzled atop his food. Dev and I call this "making it special." When I went camping and forgot to bring most of my food, Gambit knocked his bowl over in the dirt because it was just plain pup food. The next day, when I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of coffee on his food to "make it special," he gobbled up the whole bowl.)
Our weeping might have been worse because we hadn't seen our dear pups in days and days. And mine might have been even worse because I kept thinking of my newly-adult son on his own, with his dog, and finding the love of his life.
Coming home this time wasn't as depression-inducing as last year, perhaps because we didn't come back to iced-over roads and painfully cold temperatures. Or, perhaps, because eventually joining our greater family seems finally to be within reach. Or perhaps, as Devin said, because we didn't attend a funeral for a close friend or family member this year. Whatever the reason, coming home felt better than last year, and we'll take that as a win.
And my son... Wow. A legal adult. How the hell did that happen so quickly?
Here's what I wrote on his birthday:
My son is eighteen today. He is compassionate. Strong. Intelligent. Gentle. Driven to see both mercy and justice. Amazing.
My son is eighteen today. He will sneak up on the world, step by quiet step, and join with others to see positive change come to pass.
My son is eighteen today. He and his peers will create a world we old folks will hardly recognize, and it will be good.
My son is eighteen today. Every day he spends with my changes my life. His gaze is set on tomorrow. I can't wait to see where he goes next.
*The best? Sameem in Saint Louis. When I again drive cross-country, I will plan it so I must stop in Saint Louis for the sole purpose of dining at Sameem again. No, I'm not joking. To say the Denver restaurant is second to them is no slight at all.