I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.
~ Nikki Giovanni
I’ve been thinking about this post for several days. In fact, I could probably say with some accuracy that I’ve been thinking about this day for most of my life.
Your life anyway.
You turn eighteen today. Eighteen years.
It can also be said with some accuracy that I have no clue what to say. For a better writer, a post like this would be a snap. They would come up with the most eloquent things to say, and they would say them well.
I just can’t get past the fact that you’re my beautiful boy. Mom and I waited for you like we’ve waited for nothing else. The day you got your license? The day you told us about that special girl? The day you lost your first tooth or learned to ride a bike? All big days, for sure, but nothing compares to the day you were born. That snowy day in Fargo, surrounded by what seemed like every nurse, doctor, and immediate family member on the planet, and yet the way it was just you there in the end, when they left or went out to eat or shovel their way out, and I held you and couldn’t say anything at all.
You overwhelm me.
This morning, as I did on that day, I watched you sleep. All that hair. And those features that so remind me of your mother every time I look at you. Moments at your bedside, just watching you sleep, are the best moments of my life.
I realize just this morning that this fact might creep you out. Sorry.
A better writer would have planned this post in advance and taken time to write it. Wouldn’t have been in a hurry, or this disorganized. But I have to leave for work in twenty minutes. Once you figure in how I still have to clean it up, add some tags, hit publish, post it on your Facebook page, give your mother a sleepy kiss, and then actually get in the car and go, I am a bit pressed for time. So I will leave you with these few and simple words of advice, as my gift to you . . .
1) Stop plucking your unibrow. I have one. And if people don’t like it, fuck ‘em.
2) When you roll the dice, keep them on the table.
3) Talk more. You say the most interesting things.
4) Be flexible. Tomorrow won’t look exactly like today.
5) Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
6) While I’m quoting Bono, I’ll also add, “Choose your enemies carefully . . . they’re gonna last with you longer than your friends.”
7) Don’t quote rock stars all the time. You’ll sound pretentious and unoriginal.
8) For the love of God and Garl Glittergold, never stop laughing at yourself.
9) Gnomes rule.
And finally . . .
I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s really all I’ve got. All these years of me pontificating and meddling in your life, and on this day, I give you “one thing.”
You’ve been a part of my one thing for eighteen years. A red-headed, t-ball playing, adventure-seeking, thrill-a-minute part of life that, as your great-grandmother always said, I wouldn’t take a farm in Texas for.
One day, maybe I’ll write something smashingly awesome for you. On your wedding day. Or just before I die. But today, know that I love you. Every thing about you, I love. But mostly, for who you are.
My son . . .