Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It Takes an Airport to Raise a Child

Silver Bird

I remember the night
I remember it well
How you came to the light
How you came to the world, but then
How is my child today?

Take a walk in the park
And watch the girls and boys
Take a look in the closet
See all the toys, but then
How is my child today?

O, silver bird
Bound for the Eastern sky
You take a piece of my heart
And now you've made me cry
O, silver bird
Bound for the Eastern sky
See you slipping away

So we talked on the phone
Just the other day
And we both felt the pain
Of having nothing to say, but then
How is my child today?

You know I'll always be yours
And you'll always be mine
We'll be together
Together in time, but then
How is my child today?

O, silver bird
Bound for the Eastern sky
You take a piece of my heart
And now you've made me cry
O, silver bird
Bound for the Eastern sky
See you slipping away

© 1990 Sequoit Songs

The chorus of this song was conceived while standing on the top deck of the O'Hare Airport parking garage, as I watched a Swiss Air jumbo-liner rotate off runway 32R. Aboard was my eight year old, bound for Nice, France with a change in Zurich. I wouldn't see him again for 10 months, and I was understandably concerned that these separations would diminish our relationship.

Maybe it was the quality of the time we spent during his first five years, when I could be with him all morning before heading to work, or maybe it was the intensity of our two months a year when we would spend every moment together, but the fear of losing him turned out to be unfounded. We remain at times spooky close in spite of the geographical constraints. You see, there's always more than one way to skin a cat, more than one way of reaching a goal. Determination overcomes adversity and a stronger, more elastic version of a father/son relationship stands where a more conventionally structured one might suffer deep faults from the forces of daily life.

And so now I remember most from that late summer's day not the image of that plane banking softly right into the great circle route for Europe, but the matter-of-fact words of my already worldly son, "Well, I better get on the plane now." Perhaps he knew better at that moment than I that planes arrive and planes depart, that his mother would be awaiting him on the other end, as I would be next time; that these times were always as much about reunion as separation.

So we said our good-byes and he headed down the jetway in the company of some lovely Swiss Air agent to rejoin his other parents and his dog and his English school classmates in the south of France while I turned to head back to the salt mines. Echoes of "The moving walkway is now ending, please look down" would haunt the following days and months when I would miss him.

But replaying this courageous, optimistic, adventurous eight year old heading down the ramp for the other side of the world like it was nothing, really, his father couldn't help but realize eventually how cool it must have been. "I'm takin' this big old jet across the ocean, Dad, and getting on another to take me over the Alps and into the coolest place in the world. By myself."

Already he knew I could appreciate that. Like father, like son.

2 Comments:

At 3:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Touching post:

Not too many years ago I used to play in my tape deck your song "She May Be Gone, But Not Forgotten. I remember loving you, like it was yesterday." Definitely a great tune. But on that same tape, upon which I doubt you ever thought I listened, was Silver Bird. Granted I was probably eight, and when you are eight you just don't understand shit.

Hey, now I'm 21, and I still doubt that I understand shit - but I have learned the importance of family. I am able to make a good life for myself because (underline) the way I've been raised. I think that when you say, "these times were always as much about reunion as separation" you feel it as much today as when you wrote it in 1990. To me that's a mantra - a single truth that was so evident that I felt it but couldn't label it until your words.

That line is exciting. Beyond the miles Dave does love you like a father, as do I. My new dissertation: "Geography means nothing."

Awesome post, exclamation point.

Bob

 
At 7:47 AM, Blogger JD said...

I remember that day quite vividly...


It was always a long walk down the jetway.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home