Ninety-six Hours in Toronto, June 2003

Toronto nightNot so brief introductory confession and apology

I keep travel notebooks, always have—writing more in three or four days than I write in six months at home. Being in motion lights me up. I have notebooks for Hong Kong, New Orleans, Vancouver BC, Mexico City, San Francisco, Taipei, Seattle, Chicago, Salzburg, New York City, Paris, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Barcelona, Washington DC, Geneva, Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Orlando, Rome, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Portland, and others. It’s not only the big cities that grip me, I also take compulsive notes in places like Jerome, Idaho, or Alamogordo, New Mexico—it’s like a disease, I know. This may sound like a lot of travel, but the truth is, most of it is business travel—short trips spent mostly in trade show exhibits or conference rooms, staying in homogenous hotels, waiting in airports, riding in taxis. I’m no seasoned global (or even domestic) traveler, not by a stretch. This is ordinary travel, outstripped ten-fold by a young sales executive or event planner.

Still, the notes pile up.  Continue reading

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Back to the Middle of It

Colin in choirMy son Colin has made such incredible progress in recent years. He’s in fifth grade, singing in a choir, playing piano, riding around on roller blades, speaking and singing in church, filling up journals with poems and songs, drawing, dancing, making more and more friends every day. It’s hard to believe how different his world was just a few years back. It serves well to look back to the middle of it–to see what progress looks like.  Continue reading

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At the Hop

Conga line danceThis winter Colin came up with the idea of a Valentines party for his friends at school—girls and boys. Maura, always game for a party, helped him cut out handmade invitations in the shape of 45 RPM records. When the day came, they checked out CDs of fifties music from the library, decorated the walls of the living room with more cardboard 45’s. Maura’s friends joined in to make French fries, hot dogs, and milkshakes. The kids arrived: boys in jeans and t-shirts and slicked-back hair; girls in skirts, bobby socks, hair in high ponytails.  Continue reading

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Running Band of Brothers

Full team shot (color treatment)In high school I ran cross country and fell in among true friends. At the core was a half dozen of us who started together in ninth grade and were still running on the varsity team our senior year. We were a running band of brothers.

We ran year round for four years, through all seasons, even at night after summer jobs doing landscaping or roofing houses. At the height of summer training, we’d be running 75 or more miles a week. Continue reading

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Nickle Lauritzen and the Afterlife

Looking_good_in_a%20_hatLife with my son Colin brings friends back to me—friends who taught me things it took Colin’s autism to wrench into sharper focus. The roots of preparation run deep. My past, if I let it, comes back to show me things I missed the first time around.

In 1990, my friend Nickle Lauritzen was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal disease that works inward from the extremities—first the hands, then feet, legs, and arms—muscle strength and control gradually failing until you fight for every breath and finally suffocate. Nickle would describe her predicament in just such harsh terms. She wanted the bare truth out there where she could keep an eye on it. “I know how I’m going to die,” she told me soon after we met, before I really understood her illness or knew her well at all. “I will wake up one moment unable to take another breath,” she said. “And that will be that.” Continue reading

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Two Mornings in January

Morning superheros

Morning I

The cold snap this January makes it hard to wake up, our drafty 1961 house never quite warm enough. I’m too cold to relax except when in the shower or in bed. Cold or not, Colin still wakes most mornings at 7:30 A.M.—including weekends and holidays.

One morning this week I walk through the dark house thinking everyone, even Colin, could still be asleep. Then he appears in the next room, his blond hair and luminescent skin in the dark startles me at first. He could have been standing there for two seconds or an hour. He’s fully awake, a book in each hand, but all the lights are still out.

“Morning, dad,” he says with a hint of impatience as if he has been waiting hours for me, or anyone, to finally wake up. I turn on the kitchen light and he sits down at the table to read. He lets out a long breath.  Continue reading

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Friends and Superheroes

Superheroes

Colin loves to draw superheroes and talk about their high mission in the world “to fight for justice and peace, and the preservation of free will,” he says.  He often names the superheroes after real friends—Sadie, Jack, Emma, Carter, Elsa, Jake—adding words like “the great,” “invincible,” “mega,” “wizard,” “princess,” “turbo,” and “lightning.” Continue reading

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