My son Nyles and I walked to school this morning, which was about 10-percent annoying and 90-percent gratifying. Yesterday, as we got ready to drive to work, Nyles expressed an interest in walking to school, and I shut his ass down. It was Monday morning, I was tired, and he wasn't exactly doing the best job of being a good listener, which would have turned a 15-minute walk into 3-hour affair. This morning he was good, and aside from him being distracted by the acorns, garbage trucks, and red/green lights, we had a nice time. That was only the second time we've done that walk, but I may start doing this every day. It saves gas, I don't have to find parking, and I'm sure as he gets older the quality of our conversations will only improve.
The walk was also mildly therapeutic for me. I have been struggling with my emotions since Saturday night--the night before my son Carlton left Marine boot camp. It is funny leading up to the day, I wasn't very emotional at all. I would talk about the occasion like it was just another day in the park. I helped Carlton get ready, we joked about him having to cut his hair, and it never dawned on me that there is an emotional component to all of this.
Saturday I tried to call him via FaceTime and he didn't answer, so I headed to the Wizards/Knicks game, hoping to catch him later. As I was halfway there my wife told me that Carlton tried to call back via FaceTime, so I turned around, came back home and had a 20-minute conversation with him which was excellent. I covered the game, did my journalistic duties, came home, got ready to go to bed, and then it hit me like a Mike Tyson uppercut. I cried and cried and I had to call my father at 2am (he's in Phoenix so thankfully he was wide awake) and he temporarily calmed me down. But all day Sunday and yesterday, I had these 5-10 minute crying fits. Finally last night, Carlton called me to say he had arrived, and that he'd only be able to write (not call) between now and late January. That conversation made me smile, not cry, and I think I will be ok.
Back to the therapeutic part of the walk...walking with Nyles--as well as playing and talking with him, make me appreciate the little day-to-day operations of raising a 3-soon-to-be-4 year old. I didn't have that with Carlton, and judging by how quickly things have gone with young Nyles, he'll start shunning me for girls or sports in no time. So the innocence of this morning's walk was very calming. Carlton's innocence will be beat and dragged out of him during boot camp--just like it would have been in college, although in a slightly less harsh way. That's what happens between 18 and 22 right? That's a bitter pill to swallow, but I'm doing it slowly (pause). As I told my wife the other day, being an adult is difficult. It's rewarding, fun and better than being a minor, but man it is difficult sometimes.
My main man Sabin, in our discussion about the demise of Grantland, told me to step up and do more with writing in the sports department, beyond my normal Wizards-related duties. He's stepped up and developed a website and written a new book of fiction. The last time he challenged me, I learned how to swim in 3 months. I already know how to write, I just have to take that leap, or as Herbie Hancock said to Questlove, "walk that stage".