As I prepare to head to sleep, having packed my bags for a five-day, four-night trip to San Diego, I feel the need to write. See, this isn’t a vacation in the truest sense of the word. I’m not planning a trip to Sea World or the San Diego Zoo. I’m not planning to lay out on the beach–at least not for very long. I’m going as the team manager to two youth hockey teams. For the first time, I’m going out of town for a hockey tournament without Micah.
Over the past ten years, Micah and I took many hockey trips–road trips to San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Valencia, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Denver… Many of these were just the two of us, in my car, listening to music or stand-up comedians, talking about school or hockey or politics or Micah’s latest video game obsession or technology or…whatever popped to mind. Sometimes I would just look over as Micah slept during the drive. How peaceful. How relaxed. How worn out from our conversations, or his video games prior to our departure, or the all-nighter he pulled two days earlier that we was now starting to feel the “hangover” from. It was always Micah next to me.
Tomorrow, I hope to leave work in the afternoon, get to my car and find Micah waiting, watching iFunny on his phone while he waits for me to open the rear hatch of my car so he can put his goalie bag inside. I hope to hear him asking me if we can stop at Fry’s to pick up some ranch-flavored Wheat Thins, his favorite road trip snack, and maybe Circle K for a slush. I hope to be thinking about how he can show off his skills in net and give his team a great chance to win games… I hope… I hope…
At the hotel tomorrow night, I hope to have Micah ask me to show him another Kevin Smith film, or a new Monty Python movie, or just to put on Jersey Boys for the 63rd time. I hope to hear him snoring or talking in his sleep, to wonder if he’s awake or just dreaming. Dreaming. Dreaming…
In the meantime, I pack my bag–for one. I think about my meals–for one. I consider what others must be thinking… Here’s this guy, a team manager without a kid on the team. Our kids and his kid don’t hang out together. They don’t talk. They don’t go to school together. What must he be thinking about? His son died a few months ago, didn’t he? This must be painful for him. I wonder why he does it–why he puts himself through this…for what? To watch our kids play hockey? I wonder what he’s thinking.
I don’t have an answer. Or maybe the answer is far more complicated than the question. Or maybe the question is complicated because there is no question that can really be asked to get to the answer. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.