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Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

File under: “Be careful what you wish for.” Dingman and I were to have set out for Joshua Tree this weekend to mark our 22nd anniversary. In cynical moments, we congratulate each other for having made it this long without a homicide or a suicide. Last week I was wondering when I was going to find time to assemble the tent, sleeping bags, stove, hiking boots, and ice chests, etc., and cook and freeze the meals we would eat while camping. I fleetingly wished I could just throw a bathing suit and a pile of library books in a bag and go somewhere to do nothing other than read and sip gin and tonics.

“No, we already have plans for that weekend,” I heard David say on the phone a few days ago. “We’re going to Joshua Tree.”  He was talking to our son, who recently joined a fraternity.  (Upon hearing this news the week before last, David commanded, “Just don’t become a Republican, OK?”)

When I asked David about the overheard conversation, he said he had declined Christopher’s invitation to a Father-Son event at the new fraternity.  Apparently it would involve going to a Sacramento River Cats game and a barbecue. There was no mention of togas or red cups, but I couldn’t help imagining both, the vision made slightly worse by the idea of middle-aged fathers joining in.

Red Cup

Now in his second year at UC Davis, Christopher has never urged us to come to any events the university sponsors that parents attend—Picnic Day, Parents’ Weekend, wine tastings, football and basketball games. “You have to go,” I told David. So he called Christopher back and said we’d change our Joshua Tree plans.

I’ve been recruited to help with the 422-mile drive, so I’ll go along. While all the Delta Sigma Phi Y-chromosomes are off at the River Cats game and searing flesh at the barbecue Saturday, I’ll have my wish.  I can read Anne Tyler’s new novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, and Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Perhaps I’ll nip over to a Davis liquor store for what my sister used to call a “derelict bottle” of gin—the 50 ml size.

It’s hard to imagine sitting around doing nothing, just as it’s difficult to envision Christopher as a fraternity member. But life has a way of serving up changes that compel us to consider a different view, and offers opportunities we never saw coming. These are often unexpected and wonderful gifts, like 22 years of marriage, a great kid, an unplanned road trip, and books to get lost in.

About treacycolbert

I make my living by writing about health care. I've always written about life's chastening effect, but just as a way of sorting it out for myself. After years of doing this and keeping these essays quiet, I decided to put some of these impressions out there on this blog. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.

4 responses »

  1. Don’t waste your time on the new Anne Tyler novel. Ugh.

  2. Funny how no matter how old we get or what we go through, life remains unpredictable. Sometimes because we choose not to let ourselves think about the things that happen, sometimes because we just can’t imagine such happiness until we have it.
    Enjoy it as it comes, right? Deal with it when you have to.


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