As I write this, you are with your mother on a trip to Colorado.
I’m guessing you’re having a pretty good time. You have plenty of opportunities to explore and see new things. You’re surrounded by people that love you, or who at least think you’re cute. You have cousins to play with, and Gramma Maggie is there too.
Most importantly, your mom is there. Moms makes everything better. Nothing can be really bad if your mom is around.
I, on the other hand, am not doing so great.
You’ve been away for six days as of this morning. It’s the longest I’ve ever spent away from you, and it’s starting to get to me.
Well, let’s not beat around the bush, here. I’m kind of a wreck.
The first day wasn’t bad. I was busy getting stuff done. Nobody bothered me. I caught up on my e-mail. Got some writing done, and enjoyed having the house all to myself.
The second day wasn’t so bad either. I finally got around to racking off the mead we made together a couple months back.
You don’t know it’s mead. You call it our “potion.” We had such a good time putting it together. I asked you to pour the water in, and you were so careful. You didn’t spill hardly at all, and when you did, you said you were sorry and helped to wipe it up.
It was the first time I’d tried to do a project with you, and I was amazed. I knew it was going to be fun. But I expected the whole process to take longer than usual, because let’s be honest here, you’re unskilled labor. But much to my surprise, it actually went more quickly because you were a genuine help.
When you come home, I think it might be okay if you try a little bit of the potion. Just a little.
The third day I missed you, but it wasn’t so bad. I went in and lay on your bed and read a book for a while. It helped a little. Later on I got to listen to my Harry Dresden audiobooks while I cleaned up the house and organized my books.
When I was cleaning up, I found an old broken cardboard box. Anyone else would think that it was trash. But I’ve been saving it for more than a year. It’s the box you used to play with all the time. You would crawl into it, hide in it, wear it like a hat….
It’s absolutely destroyed now. It’s been torn up and chewed. Taped and re-taped.
I put it in the closet, where it will be safe. I can’t throw something like that away.
On the fourth day, I take out the compost. That means I have to walk by your toys in the backyard. Back past the garden is the tree I chopped up while you watched. You thought it was so cool.
It’s so much fun to do things around you. I’m like a superhero, and I don’t even have to try. I can reach things on tall shelves. I can stand on my head. I can open doors. You think I’m so cool.
Once, you were watching me dry off after I’d taken a shower. When I flipped the towel over my head to dry my back, you looked up at me in amazement and said, “Fancy!”
It was pure admiration.
You know what? I’ve had crowds of people show up to listen to me talk. I’ve had 400-500 people at a time clapping or cheering or laughing at my jokes.
And I won’t lie to you, it’s nice.
But it’s nowhere near as cool as having you look up at me, genuinely impressed at me flipping a towel over my head, and saying, “Fancy!”
You see me do these things, and you think that I’m awesome. And so I *am* awesome.
But you’re gone now, and I’m not awesome. I’m a pathetic bastard who can’t stop crying while taking out the compost.
On the fifth day I leave the house for a bit. That helps a little. Like most writers, I have the ability to be perfectly happy spending long amounts of time by myself. But five days without leaving the house or speaking to another human is pushing it even for me.
So I go for a walk. I shop a little. I sign a book at the local bookstore. I chat with the people that run my favorite local internet cafe, the Tech Lounge. The folks that run the place have a little baby girl, only about 4 months old. She’s cute as a button, and has a baby mohawk where her hair sticks up.
I just want to hold her. It’s like I’m a junkie. I can’t get what I really want. I can’t be with you. But being able to hold a cute baby would help a little bit.
But I can’t ask. It’s too weird.
Instead I come home and try to talk to you on the phone. Unfortunately, the cell reception up in the mountains is shit. I can hear your voice, but I couldn’t understand what you were trying to tell me. It was like an exercise in tangible loneliness.
Today is the sixth day. If I were to explain to you how much I missed you, it would sound like a lie.
So I’m writing you a letter. I write you letters all the time.
Sometimes they’re just little stories, things I want to remember so I can share them with you later. Sometimes they’re things I’d like to tell you, but you’re too little to understand right now.
I wrote you a letter before you were born. It was the first night I found out Sarah was pregnant, before we knew if you were a boy or a girl. I try to write you at least a couple every month.
You see, by the time you’re old enough to have a really good adult conversation, the person I am right now is going to be gone. I’ll be so much older, and our relationship will have changed so much. There will have been arguments and slammed doors. You’ll be irritated because I won’t stop giving you advice, and I’ll be irritated because you never listen to me.
But see, right now, our relationship is perfect. I’ve got nothing but love for you, my little man.
So I want to take the opportunity to tell you this: if things get shitty in the future it won’t matter in the long run. If you roll your eyes at me and I shout at you, if we end up screaming terrible things at each other….
None of that matters. You’re my boy. You are my favorite thing in the world. You are the one and only thing that always makes me happy. You are going to grow up and break my heart and do things that disappoint me. And it’s okay.
None of the other stuff matters because deep down, underneath it all, I love you like anything. That will never go away.
So why am I putting this letter online? A couple reasons.
First, because there is always the chance that something might happen to me. A plane could crash. I could have a stroke. Some fan might give me the love knife.
Simply said, shit happens. And if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, you’ll be able to find this and read it someday and know the truth of it.
Similarly, the letters I’ve written you are in a folder titled “Letters to the Future” on my computer. If you dig around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find them.
Secondly, I’m doing this to embarrass the hell out of you when you’re in high school. Because that sort of thing is good for you. It builds character.
P.S. For those of you who aren’t my son, tune in on Friday for news about the photo contest.