After dinner tonight my dad and I drove a mile and a half down the road to the Harbor Cinema, an old two-screen movie theater on Lakeshore Drive, to catch the 8:30 showing of The Intern because my dad hadn't seen it yet and because I wanted to see it again. Truth be told, I liked it even more the second time around and I'm pretty sure that my dad liked it as well because, and he'll kill me for putting this in writing and then sticking it on the World Wide Web, I saw him wipe away a tear when Robert De Niro's character told Ann Hathaway's character about his late wife in the hotel room scene during their business trip to San Francisco. Robert De Niro's character could have been based on my dad. Anyway, while I was sitting there in the dark I realized that the last time that I saw a movie at the Harbor was in 1995, twenty whole years ago. The movie was The Bridges of Madison County and I was with my parents and that's when I learned about Meryl Streep.
After enjoying leftover Chinese takeout for dinner this evening Bryan, my dad and I met Aunt Patti and Uncle Luz at Aunt Debbie and Uncle Steve's one hundred and fifty-year-old historic mansion downtown to sip cocktails and catch up. I don't have great pictures to post (obvi, see above) but we laughed a little and hugged a lot and it feels really good to be home. I should note that I consumed at least three Blueberry Lemonade Smirnoff Ices tonight because my dad and I went shopping while I was in a special frame of mind this afternoon and they sounded (and were) delish.
Last night my dad handed me a Ziploc bag filled to bursting with letters that he and my mom had exchanged while they were dating and oh my stars are they giving me life right now. The letters begin, as far as I can tell, in the fall of 1976 with a three-page missive addressed from my mom's college apartment at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan to the USS Steinaker, the ship that my dad was stationed on during his time in the Navy. On the back of the first envelope reads "A little sunshine sent your way - - Hope it brightens up your day!" and on the front is a thirteen-cent stamp with a picture of the Liberty Bell on it. In the letter itself my mom talks about apartment living and homework and her intramural softball team, which had just lost their first game twenty-four to one. I wanna go and shake my dad awake right now and ask him the million questions that I've come up with while reading the first dozen or so letters, but that would be nuts so I'm just gonna put my favorite part from the first letter below and pick his brain tomorrow.
I wanted to thank you for a great time when you were home. I haven't done something goofy like that in a long time. I couldn't believe it when you took me and we walked right into that pool. I'll have to say that I didn't get an excess amount of sleep that weekend but it was worth it. Hey - Mark Lambert - you are crazy!
It is so damn cool to read my mom's words and to see how much her scratchy handwriting didn't change throughout her life and to witness my parents' love unfolding. Also, I think it's important to note that today is, or today would have been rather, their thirty-seventh wedding anniversary.
I woke up late this morning, took a long shower and then hung out with my dad until I had to leave to meet Megan and Karlee for lunch out by the mall. Karlee had a couple of high school yearbooks tucked under her arm when she walked into Logan's Roadhouse fifteen minutes late and so a quick-ish bite turned into a two-hour affair, which was wonderful in that the three of us laughed a ton but sad because I left the restaurant feeling old AF. I changed into outdoor clothes when I got home around three and then my dad and I drove to the state park for a hike through snowy trails to check out the new plaque on my mom's bench (see photo above). Afterwards we picked Harrison up from daycare (he lost his shit when he spotted me through the window), ate Crock-Pot pork chops with Chris and Kel and then my dad and I sat in the living room reading our respective novels until he opted to head to bed a couple of hours ago. I hadn't moved from the big brown armchair that once sat in my parents' bedroom in our house on Robinhood until I finished Marc Acito's How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater just now. Below is my favorite passage, which I know B will skip over because he never reads the quotes.
This is the magic moment of birthday cakes, the moment that Paula and I love most. This is that time when they turn out the lights and everybody starts smiling at you and your mother comes through the door and the only light in the room is that fuzzy sort of glow from the flame on your birthday cake shining on your mother's face. And your mom is smiling that proud kind of "I'm your mom" smile and you're smiling that embarrassed kind of "this is my day" smile. And then you close your eyes and make a wish, any wish you want because it's your day. Then you blow out the candles and everyone claps and then, best of all, you get to eat cake.
If I'm being totally honest I don't really even like cake and it's way too quiet here and I can feel my mom everywhere and how the fuck is it possible that someday this will all just be normal?
I'm home and it's snowing and I miss my mom.