Walking out the Door – Again

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Leaving already? It seems I just got home. Four days to get over jet lag, wash clothes, eat a couple of home-cooked meals, reintroduce myself to my wife and son, catch a cold (let the cold catch me) and then gone again. Cheltenham last week, Florida this week. Trading tweed suits  for track suits, 12-year-old geldings for 2-year-old colts.

Miles, 4, tells me he doesn’t miss me when I’m gone, “I think about you a lot, but I don’t miss you.”

I guess that’s good.

Last night, I needed a proper goodbye, knowing I was leaving early, before he woke up.

“Miles, I won’t be here in the morning. I’m going to Florida for a couple of days. I love you.”

“Dad, Tuck the Alligator likes to swim in the water.”

The resiliency of children.

I say goodnight to him. To myself.

He misses – or chooses to avoid – the enormity of goodbyes. I guess that’s good.

I’ve traveled all my life. As often as I could afford. Hong Kong, Dubai, New Zealand, Japan, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Barbados and anywhere from the Grand Canyon to Jackson Hole in America. And every racetrack from Assiniboia Downs to Fairmount Park to Great Barrington Fair. I guess, 25 straight summers in Saratoga count as traveling too.

It used to be easy.

Single, you slam the door and never look back, hoping your landlord doesn’t sell the house while you’re gone. I never thought about what would be different when I became a husband, a father. Out of all the changes in life, that’s the biggest. Travel will never be the same; it now has costs, consequences, stress. I guess every father (mother for that matter) walks out of the house, weighing, wondering, worrying.

Weighing the costs. Wondering about the consequences. Worrying about a lot more than if the landlord sells the house.

This morning, I step out into the darkness, hit by the chill. Overnight bags, packed the night before, on each arm. Cup of coffee in my hand, trying not to spill it, as bags dangle. A couple of horses look at me from their paddocks and go back to eating or sleeping (I can’t really tell), they care about as much as Miles.

A football lies in the grass. Under a tree. Damp from the morning dew. It’ll be there when I get back. I hope.

I’m living a Harry Chapin song. You know the one.

Want to listen?