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Gravity & Flight

21 July 2022

Talk about a pregnant moment, gravid with significance. Two years ago, on this day in the early months of a worldwide pandemic, was the last “family event” of my marriage, a summer riverfront walk, and a stop for ice-cream. A few days later, on one of those early-COVID “socially distanced” date nights, my wife gave me my “Dear John.” Our lives no longer meshed, she said, but she would always be my friend, and she moved out by the end of the week. I knew she wasn’t happy, that her needs weren’t being met, but with a then 4-year-old son, during a worldwide pandemic, whose were? There was no reason that a relationship of over ten years, among the best years of both of our lives, couldn’t survive and thrive. “When we worked, we were amazing.” Even our therapist said we were not in the “danger zone,” cared about each other’s well-being, had communication skills, and were good problem solvers. But my partner’s anxiety was sky high, and there was an elephant in the room: Our age difference had quite different portents for each of us, highlighted by quite different consequences of pandemic-induced “mortality salience.” My partner had also come to believe that her life could not be fulfilled without more children. That was a path I was unable to take. I could not give her the future she wanted, and I did not. After watching a romantic comedy, about a young man going through a series of relationships, she said she didn’t have the experience to relate to any of them. I knew then that she was probably leaving. There was much she would have to learn from experience, “building a life from scratch,” and I had a longer lifetime “baseline” to which I could return.

This is not intended to be an exploration of our relationship, its relatively amicable mediation, or the love we both share for our son. But it is, at least, about the gravity of such major changes in life, and the relationship between that gravity and flight, our ability to rise again and fly to something new. Aside from the concerns we share, though they don’t always agree, about what is in the best interest of our son, our lives have increasingly, in whatever fits and starts, come to have less and less to do with each other. She said, “I don’t want you in my life,” an epistemically interesting truth that I do think I understand, for which I feel some compassion, but that is another, deeper story. I gave her generous support in the interim, and we even celebrated our post-nuptial agreement over an amicable lunch.

I should have been less surprised and shocked than I was, eight months ago, when after a “final, final” mediation session, my wife had to make clear to me that her future did not lie in Lancaster County, but closer to her widowed mother, in Delaware, with better prospects for romantic partners, and better job opportunities. My shock was in part because I had not been privy to much going on in her head, and heart, but also because of my own stasis. I lived in Lancaster County for over 20 years, moving into my townhouse a week before 9/11/2001, and lived in with her for the last ten. But I retired early, and despite the love I have for Lancaster County, nurtured by the life I shared with Lindsey, there was little keeping me there. For our son’s sake, if she had to move, so did I. “This is what divorce is about.”

Given all the changes our son had already endured, it was not in his best interest to be torn out of a full-day Kindergarten he knew and loved, in the middle of the holidays. Lindsey’s final move in February closed the Lancaster County chapter of her life. I took on the remainder of our son’s school week, and she got weekends. The gravity of what remained to do until June, and then with energies I had left, would leave me preoccupied, cost more than I could have imagined, leave me wrung out, bereft and alone, doing it all solo, a retired man in his 60s. I had to uproot the entirety of my adult life post age 26.

My father, a Lutheran Campus Minister for most of his career, 30 years deceased, I have now outlived by a year. Dad had an original Hodgell woodcut that he kept in his study, behind the door, which we always thought was scary. It is a woodcut of Christ in Gethsemane, prostrate in prayer, his apostles asleep behind him. He is asking his Father to “take this cup from me,” but he knows it is his Father’s Will, an act of love for humanity that he must agonizingly suffer, and he must do it because no one else could.

As part of uprooting my life in Lancaster County, I had to let this Hodgell wood cut of Christ in Gethsemane go. I had hung it above the stairs coming from my 3rd floor Mount Joy aerie, El Cielo, for a decade until I replaced it my skydiving photo, moving my study upstairs in preparation for my new family. It’s brother, Hodgell’s Dancing Prophet, still has a place above my dining room table.

Gerhard Spiegler, a University of Chicago philosopher who was the President that hired me at Elizabethtown College had one of the Gethsemane woodcuts above his fireplace in the President’s House. I once thought to donate it to Elizabethtown’s Library, but I no longer had such faith.

So, instead of getting the $1000 or so it was probably worth on eBay, I decided to give it to friends who would appreciate it, the family of three home-schooled boys with whom my son still plays. I enjoy talking to their mom on those occasions, and their dad is a Catholic educator in Lancaster, a college philosophy major with whom I talk theology. The amicable airing of differences, including ones between the kids, is also healthy and humbling.

They sent me a photo of Gethsemane’s first night in their front hallway, their three boys studying it. I wept, knowing it was in loving hands. This was an inheritance from my dad, a minister at U. Wisconsin and Purdue, who marched with King at Selma, and gave me a legacy of “Science-and-Religion” that I pursued for 25 years after his death in 1992. I think I would have made him proud, and he would be happy to see where this woodcut would find new life. After our last visit to see The Boys, just before school started, Byron saw his first double rainbow.

When I posted my Gethsemane story on Facebook, the old friend who my son and I had just visited in Indianapolis, whose own father was flying B-25s over China while my dad fought at the Battle of the Bulge, just said, “I’m crying too my friend, my old friend.”

I emailed my brother’s wife about the Hodgell woodcut, so important to my dad, and displayed over my third-floor staircase for a decade. I’d just had a conversation with my “again mentor” about the Hodgell woodcut, and its deeper meanings. There are tasks that we take on for love, or when “if it hurts, you know you are doing the right thing,” despite all the torture and grief we know they will exact. We do them, and it is important that we do because no one else can, or sometimes even tries.

At this gravid moment of my own life, I can feel my own takeoff coming, as surely as one does when one’s flight is racing down the runway, just as the front wheels lift off the tarmac, just before the rise in one’s gut as the plane becomes airborne. One feels the gravity, like the g-forces of a rocket fighting its way out of the Earth’s gravity, or, in such a blockbuster summer, Top Gun’s F/A 18s pulling 8 g’s.

A few weeks ago, an old student, a friend for 25 years, told his wife he’s lived ten lives so far. “That’s the truth. People like us have diverse experiences that pull us in different directions because we want to experience what it is to be alive. Sometimes we burn. Sometimes we are the phoenix. You are now a Phoenix.” I made a list of all the times I have risen again from the ashes: When I broke up with my first love, and then hitch-hiked to California for a year. Finishing my doctorate, when I’d put a 2X4 behind my head so a needed snooze wouldn’t turn to sleep, and then spend the night running subjects and analyzing data. The gravity before moving to Penn State and starting a new life as a “fresh minted PhD” at age 26. After I was married but blindsided by a tenure denial from an impossible job, rising again at the birth of my daughter and joining the faculty at Elizabethtown College. A second child, tenure, and then the gravity of my first marriage running aground after my father’s early death, when my career as a scholar of cognitive science and religion took off.

By the cusp of the new millennium, I bought my townhouse in Mount Joy, PA, still close to my kids, and moved in by a sabbatical fall term, in September of 2001. Pause. Yes. Boom, boom, and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan fell, and the weight of the world again came down, its gravity exacerbated by the beginning of an 8-year-long unrequited obsession with a brilliant and beautiful colleague who turned out to be a Borderline Personality. Boom.

Doktor Fausta came to a rather jagged terminus the same summer that I was elected to be President of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) and began teaching an honors seminar on “Neuromythology: Brains and Stories.” My scholarship also took flight, culminating in co-organizing an IRAS conference on “The Mythic Reality of the Autonomous Individual,” “Ted and John’s excellent adventure.” But I felt abandoned by my Fausta, and what should have felt like a celebration of one of the major laurels of my career, had a leaden gravity. After a road trip to New Mexico with an old friend, I bussed across two deserts, and felt our final terminus as an “Alamogordo of the Heart.”

The irony is that in the gravity of that terminus, I befriended a coed from the seminar, who became a confidante, and by the end of the summer, instead of tattooing myself with the Moebius Ouroborus that I intended, at the last minute I got a phoenix rising from an atomic blast, my Phoenix Alamogordo, a fleeting image of Lindsey in my head. Shortly after my birthday that Fall, we would find our Eros, after six months of friendship, before she left for a semester of whale watching on the Baja Peninsula. Something had grown over the grave of what my older son called the white vampire, as I came to think of myself as no longer having the heart of a sparrow, but that of a lion. That same son would describe my new love as my kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. My flaws and imperfections are all still there, but the broken pieces were put back together with the gold of my relationship with Lindsey, her love for me, but also mine for her.

Our love was quite real, certainly requited, and even, despite our age difference, lasted a decade and a beautiful, happy boy was its fruit. At an IRAS conference that summer, no one judged us; indeed, one of my female friends told me the story of her mother marrying a professor, and two of my older male friends told me they were living through me vicariously. Our relationship was even celebrated by many of my colleagues, who’d seen me “soldiering on” alone for so long, even if “some female faculty” objected categorically, not from the role difference, but with disgust at our May-October age gap.

Lindsey did a year of graduate work at my old doctoral alma mater, but the realities of a campus in a dangerous neighborhood took their toll on my poor country girl, and after presenting a paper in Toronto, she just wanted to “go home.” That summer we had a “handfasting,” at our favorite local venue, entertained by Blue Voodoo, our favorite blues/rock band. My career was at a peak after the IRAS conference, but, too full of myself, and too inattentive, when I asked Lindsey if she wanted to “renew” our handfasting, she said “No.” She wanted to have children, and I didn’t think I could manage another round of fatherhood. Gravity.

We moved to separate bedrooms, but I watched in loving friendship, as Lindsey found a job as a microbiologist, outfitted an apartment, and prepared to move. Our friend Lisa thought we were now more equals than ever. Lindsey was moving on Father’s Day weekend, and as I wanted to try skydiving before I turned 60, she arranged one where they had a perfect safety record. I went on a 20-mile bike ride to clear my head. A huge oak tree stood sentinel near a farmhouse. I saw a ladder against the tree, and had an epiphany, watching our children playing under the tree. When I told Lindsey that we were making the biggest mistake of our lives, and that I wanted to have a family with her, she just said “I don’t believe you.” I told her I would prove it to her and give her a year to figure out what she wanted to do. She told me to write her a story, with taxes, and diapers, and graduations, and maybe she’d believe it. I wrote “How I Won Your Mother,” which began:

How did I win your mother? I haven’t yet. A man is always a guest in a relationship. The woman makes the rules. If you feel like a lion, it is because she lets you. And the best you ever have in life is what she gave you. If you think otherwise, if you ever start to take that for granted, she will start to back away. You may not even realize it at first. Most of us are clueless when it comes to this stuff, but if it takes you too long, you will pray to God it is not too late, even if you are an atheist. Plus, the woman chooses, even if she makes the man think he is doing it; what you think and what is really happening are rarely the same. I’ve studied psychology all my life. Trust me. So, your Mom chose me first.

We talked a lot over the next weeks. The day she was moving, I went skydiving, and spent the Father’s Day weekend with my son, hiking, and talking. When I came home, I felt an emptiness and loneliness deeper than I had felt for a long time. On the Solstice, a week after Lindsey moved, I got up, skipped my shower, and got to work power-washing my deck. When finished, I went on another long bike ride, but just as I was carrying my bike inside, Lindsey appears. “You go take your shower, I’ll pour the wine,” and we were together again. I proposed a few weeks later, met her parents in the Fall, and by the beginning of March, we celebrated our marriage in Paradise, PA. By the next summer, with the help of a fertility clinic, Lindsey was pregnant, and I called her in tears of happiness. She still wanted to do some things before baby boulevard, like going to a rock concert and gambling at a casino, so we went to a Rolling Stones concert, and spent a weekend at Atlantic City. We were expecting a “leapling,”in 2016.

A week after a “baby moon” at Virginia Beach, at the January cusp of a new semester, Lindsey’s blood pressure shot up, and she woke me at 4 in the morning, her heart beating so fast I thought she was having a heart attack. She had pre-eclampsia, and needed an emergency C-section. Our son was born on Martin Luther King Day. Lindsey was in the hospital, our son was in the NICU; I was teaching a full load and co-organizing a conference for the summer. Watching my beloved wife cut open to rescue our son was one of the most traumatic moments of my life. I visited daily and had the “skin time” with our son that Lindsey was too sick to have. After the semester, my conference over, I was tapped out. I had thought, as my bike-ride epiphany bears out, that we would have more than one child. “How I won your Mother” also had two children, and an attempt at a third. But we decided, early on in our marriage, that I should probably not be taking on more children beyond the age of 64, making me 85 by the time such a child would reach majority. Lindsey’s best friend, a surgical resident in Las Vegas, said her pre-eclampsia would put her life at risk. I was daunted in any case, and with a 6-month old, it was not the time.

I took a parental leave in the fall, paid for by some of my accumulation of sick days, enough for 6-7. I was paid too much, was too much of a thorn in the president’s side, and was taking a parental leave. The college was in financial difficulty, but by December, our provost (a one-time psychology professor) approved a departmental hire of two new faculty, for a retiring colleague, and one who just resigned. In January, hiring was frozen, and our poor provost needed to rectify her over-reach. When the College offered a Voluntary Retirement Initiative Program, and an extra semester’s salary, Lindsey came down with a spreadsheet one Saturday and said, “You don’t have to work.” But I would spend the weekend after Finals, doing the last grading of my career, at my mother’s death bed in Indiana.

It was all too much, too fast. Negotiating the financial and emotional difficulties of my precipitous retirement, and my mother’s death, left me at confused and loose ends, as retirement also made our difference in life-stage brutally salient. Gravity. We stumbled along, our spirits up with the travel that my retirement afforded. I thought Lindsey and I were on the same page, with her pre-eclampsia and our place in life. My retirement was final only 4 months from my 64th birthday, my “expiration date.” But Lindsey’s acceptance of our family situation had begun to flag, her body not really getting with the program. Every month, her biological clock ticking, and monthly reminders of another egg, another possible child lost, left her grieving, too much for her to bear.

We traveled, including a trip to South Africa, and a long cruise to the West Indies, my favorite trip. For my 65th birthday, Lindsey got me the best present ever, driving several high-end sportscars, including a Ferrari. But seeing that my then 2 ½-year-old son was even more excited than I was, I knew that the real gift this wonderful, loving woman had given me was our son. Then, the fall before the pandemic grew to its dangerous proportions, we took our “Left Coast Trip.” But our tensions and differences in our marriage were exacerbated by COVID-19’s gravity, and by summer, Lindsey decided to end it. Flight.

The gravity that I have faced, after Lindsey’s return to the family estate in Delaware, has been one of the lengthiest and most difficult transitions of my life. This is not one of the normal and expected transitions, of leaving home, of pursuing a career, of marriage and parenthood, and all the personal and lifestyle adjustments these can entail. Lindsey’s childhood included many moves, following her father’s career path, making it difficult for her to make and sustain friendships. Moving to her parent’s home, in the first summer of the pandemic was the result of a difficult and life-changing decision, but one I think she had to make. But we all knew, even our son, that it wasn’t Lindsey’s home. Her move to a townhouse just 12 minutes away was her “own place,” and the flexibility that entailed was healthier for all of us, especially Byron. With her father’s death, the failure of her business to provide a living during the limits of “rehabilitative maintenance,” as well as the needs of her grieving family and her widowed mother, another hiatus at her mother’s made sense, and our son already had a bedroom there. Flight.

With my school-week responsibilities for my son, and regular visits to my increasingly debilitated brother in Chicago, would come all the weight, all the gravity of the endless marathon of relocation. If I had to think it all through, plan and budget each step, I would have been overwhelmed, and may not have thought it possible. While my ex-wife managed her move with spread-sheet efficiency, had I tried to do so, it would have taken six months to even plan it, to say nothing of how it could possibly be done in reasonable time. Instead, all I could do was try to keep my head above water, and just keep moving forward, dealing with each task as it arose. Where would my son’s mother live and work, once her hiatus was over, and when? Where would my son be registered for school? How would I relocate from a townhouse with a large academic study still full of books and papers and a basement full of 20 years of storage, all needing to be downsized, sold, jettisoned, or moved, and where, how and when?

One step at a time. December and January were “infrastructure.” We’d had a new kitchen, including a granite countertop. The house had a new roof. But my electrical panel was overdue for replacement, which needed to be financed. Boom. I had replaced Lindsey’s “top of the line” Swedish dishwasher, for reasons of costly repair, and now replaced my old stove. We’d replaced the burnt-out dryer, but now it was time to get a new washer. Resealing the driveway was a day of work in early Spring but resealing the deck and repainting the railings would wait, after I did some repainting, and contracted the rest.

I downsized my academic library. For access and sorting, I put my “keepers” in bins, and turned my living room, using my entire set of bookshelves, into a kind of library (remember Gabriel Garcia Marquez “I always thought paradise was a kind of a library”?). I told friends they could have any books they wanted. Meantime I eliminated files, old paperwork, and put out a 50-gallon trash can each week. The 1500 book “reduction” of my academic library got some love. A hybrid weekend was spent with three ex-students, for a shelf-by-shelf tour and, inevitably, two days of discussion of books and ideas. Then, finally, photographing what remained, the buyer from Midtown Scholar came to claim them. Much of the literature that stood sentinel on living room bookshelves I had not read for decades, and probably wouldn’t again, there only to show that I was “well read”. But I’m a retired dude with a 40+ year career as an academic, with laurels to show, so why retain the ancient display? “Now your children won’t have to do this when you go.” I did a yard sale, but the first time someone says, “nothing here that I need,” you laugh and say, “me either.” The real goal was just to get rid of stuff.

More troubling were a few items, like the Hodgell woodcut, that I either felt uncomfortable selling, or would rather not give up. One of my most moving moments was when my son Jacob came over one night to work on the “bunk” part of a beautiful loft bed, made of stout 2X4s, which I had painted that wonderful blue I remembered from Greece. I would use the lofted bed as a divider wall, which I spent time decorating. One side I covered with of my favorite art. Images from Dali, Klimt, Monet, and my favorite Rodin sculptures. On the other side were pictures of my favorite places in the world, of Greek islands, Athens and Barcelona, London and Copenhagen, of Prague, Chichen Itza, and even the “home port” if IRAS on Star Island, NH. My #1 son spent over an hour carefully removing all the images from both sides. Jacob is still a single man in his 30’s and may have many years of entertaining yet to do. His best friend, coming by with his truck to help Jacob take some bookcases, offered to take the brand-new ping-pong table off my hands. The idea of my son’s group of friends playing ping-pong on this table does my heart good. Our 65-gallon fish tank also had to go, two days of work to drain, clean and wash, the fish sacrificed, but I just couldn’t get rid of it. Then the mother of one of Byron’s schoolmates sent her husband to pick it up and insisted on giving me over $100 for it! But what I am going to do with a townhouse full of framed photographs I don’t have room for? Or the boxes full of CDs, tapes, and even records? Or, yes, the 500 or so books and the papers I couldn’t part with, placed in a very small study.

I thought I would find a townhouse, in a decent school district near the Delaware border. But someone set off a “no rental” bomb in Chester County. As the housing market was insane, Lindsey decided buying a house wasn’t happening this year. As her mom has sacralized her space by putting her husband’s ashes in her yard, I don’t think she’ll ever move. But from there, Byron could attend the best school district in Delaware, and we could give him some school stability through 5th grade. My driving forays began to focus on Newark area apartment complexes with pools. Too many were in the same kind of isolated developments that seem to be common in Newark. Driving down every other day was exhausting, conflicted, and frighteningly expensive. I had no idea whether I could rent out my townhouse for enough to even afford an apartment in Delaware. I found a place less than a mile from the University of Delaware. When I took Byron down to look for ‘partments, he loved the park near this one, and the ping-pong table in the clubhouse, declaring it “a winner.” So, I would have a third-floor walkup, with a back balcony overlooking a stand of trees. I pay a little more for an 8’ X 10’ “den” that I can use for a downsized “study.” The lease was signed; my anxiety went down a notch.

The actual moving process was yet another epic. I don’t know how many times I laughed when people asked me “when is your moving day.” Day? It’s a process. “Big Pieces Day” was to be Saturday 7 May, but the moving truck had problems and was delayed until Sunday. So much for Lindsey bringing Byron and pizza on “moving day.” Then the movers didn’t arrive until 9 PM. Unfortunately, moving everything from my living-room staging area proved a lot easier than moving it up 4 stair landings, and the movers did not finish until 3:30 am. Lindsey gave me some coupons for Pizza Hut (“Byron wants pizza”), but also generously wrote me a check for half of the cost. My GPS kept routing me back and forth to a Pizza Hut that went out of business. “Is this a dream” is Byron’s regular refrain, with “too many changes.”

Byron and I “camped out” in the increasingly empty townhouse until school was over, reduced to a card-table in the dining room. I was moving 2-3 full carloads a week to Thorn Flats, Newark, DE. But I barely had time to pack the car, drive to Delaware, and unload before I needed to go pick up Byron from school, so most of the unpacking would wait. Between these were carloads for area dumpsters. Two junk haulers removed what pieces I couldn’t. Then came a woman with a crew of “deep cleaners,” and a Hawaiian husband with a tattoo of “don’t trust anyone,” though we agreed that in Lancaster County you could trust people. They took three days, but still came in under budget. So did my contracted painter, a brilliant autodidact with eight kids for whom the silences of his painting jobs were his “College.”

After the end of school rituals, I stained the deck and painted the railings, and replaced the reincarnated wild rose I got rid of a decade ago with some evergreen spires, breakout roses, and even dragon’s breath for color. With the last of our camp-out in the car, I drove away with tears rolling down my face.

In the gravid hiatus before the long-term tasks of settling in and building my new life, I have mostly unpacked (except the study), hung some art, got some stools, a few rounds of groceries, and figured out the computer set-ups. I’ve had a few Zoom “happy hours” from my dining room, contacts with my “aging mentor” and my favorite Republican, discovered one of the best liquor stores in the country two miles away, explored a few wineries, and even seen the “Top Gun: Maverick” summer blockbuster twice. More importantly I’ve had Byron here for a week in June, and his first week of camp, filled in for Lindsey’s “business trip,” and had a few extra Daddy Days during Lindsey’s two week turns to recover her 50/50 time from the school year. Byron has already had play date with a friend from camp, discovered a park with interesting play structures and kids to play with. We now have a new favorite restaurant, where Byron took a stuffed replica of “Minecraft TNT,” and threatened to blow it up (I could just imagine the Swat Team: “Drop the stuffed pillow, please”). Our July week was the road trip to the Midwest, the USAF museum in Dayton, some ancient friends in Indianapolis at their fantastic Children’s Museum, seeing the Sears Tower (and The Ledge), and taking Byron’s favorite cruises off of Navy Pier. We had a couple of beach days on the Lake with Aunt Carol and Uncle Jeff (who he really wanted to see), and even played ping-pong with his cousins on Clark Street, before the night-long drive back. Then, the final piece, really, that my townhouse in Mount Joy was indeed contracted for someone to move in 15 August. Fantastic news, and even a surprise to my older son and his friends’ more negative prognostications. Consummatum Est.

Byron still has some anxiety issues, but I am already on task to find a play therapist. I had Byron for a “staycation” of some local festivals, a visit to “The Boys” in Lancaster, and a run up to Hawk Mountain for the boulder moraine, and baseball with our new minor league team the Wilmington Blue Rocks! Then even Daddy got a breather, visiting his oldest friend in the world in Costa Rica, and then finished the summer with Byron the week before school starts. I did it! I am relocated to Thorn Flats, Newark, DE, 19711. And now, it is martini time, a little journaling, my new balcony, and rest.

In the light of day, I can feel the gravity of what I have managed to accomplish in eight months. My good friend Lisa, with whom there is little I cannot share, said “You got this,” and I did. But I also “got this” in what is to come. Lindsey may have been my kintsugi, and turned me from the “sparrow heart” I was with Doktor Fausta, to the “lion heart” I still feel myself to be now, wants something other than the future she might’ve had with me, and I can now have the future I might never have had with her. So, “hasta la vista, baby.” May you find your way through your own dark wood of your 30’s, and your biological clock running down, the counterpart to mid-life for a man. My own mid-life was “Becoming One’s Own Man” post-tenure, post-divorce, and with my dad’s death, for 25 years, a “second generation” in my inheritance of the work in Science-and-Religion. BOOM. I still have the confidence, from a history of academic achievement, the innovating and mentoring roles I played in my teaching career, my leadership roles the Science-and-Religion community, and the mentoring I provided to younger scholars, now even past their own leadership roles. We shall see each other again, in Split.

The gravity of my relocation, as I now find myself taxiing toward the runway, preparing for my flight into a new life, is what gives my airplane its necessary weight. The flight is one of the most portentous of my life, heading into what years I might have before I shuffle off this mortal coil, and my story finds an ending. It is the size and weight of such an aircraft that makes a longer and more sustained flight possible, like a big airliner, or even, in my imagination, a high-altitude, long-distance bomber like the B-52 Stratofortress, put into service the year before I was born, still flying in the 21st century. Flight. The task before me is not the undesired one I took on for love of my son, for The Power of Showing Up, the paternal presence to help him into manhood. I showed up. Next is the flight into a new life, and the gravity of what I have done gives me a sense of confidence. It is open-ended and hopeful. So, I will soon be heading down the runway, and I can feel the lift of the front wheels off the runway, into flight.

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