Monday, July 5, 2010

Essay: A Step Through the Wormhole in Time

You don’t have to be Einstein to know something about the method of measuring Time is plainly awry. A kid knows it at the end of summer. A patient knows it in a waiting room. A parent knows it on graduation day. And on the day she becomes a grandparent. And, come to think of it, at the end of an ordinary day that sometimes feels like a minute and sometimes feels like a month.

There should be a formula for Time that takes into account age and circumstance.
Like T = A x C (24 x 7 x 365).
 Don’t write me notes about how faulty this formula is. Consider it an act of poetic license. Written by a mathphobic. (You still don’t like it? Write your own damn formula and send it to me. I promise to post it.)

I’m hanging out with Dylan, my almost 17-year-old nephew this week. He is balanced perfectly atop the line between boy and man. But he’s old enough to be a good companion, which is a nice addition to my family experience. The dude is coooool, as I knew he would be from the moment I met him. And here’s the freaky bit about Time because I remember meeting him, uh, let’s see, when was it? Oh right, it was flippin’ yesterday. Or at least it seems like yesterday when we first met on the day he was born.

Dylan was the first of his generation born to the family, so he had a spotlight trained firmly on him from conception. (Ew, that’s really gross and way far into the TMI Zone. Let’s say from implantation. Ugh. Still a little icky. Ok, we’ll go with from the first time we oohed and aaahed over the sonogram photos of him. You can stop making that “icky icky poo poo” face now that we’re in comfortable territory again. He had the cutest sonogram ever.) On September 10, 19-whatever this year minus almost 17 is (don’t roll your eyes - we already established my distrust of math,) my husband and I were lolling about in bed on a weekend early afternoon. Yes, early afternoon and still in bed; this was, obviously, in the time before we had kids. We did a whole lotta lolling back in the day. We considered it a serious moral responsibility. If lolling had been a professional sport, you would have seen us lolling atop the gold-medal podium at the Olympics. Anyway, we got the call that Dylan was born, along with a request to wait until the next day to do the three-hour drive to meet him. So we stared at the bedroom ceiling, talking about how excited we were to meet our first nephew. Then we got real quiet. Until finally I said, “Screw waiting. Let’s go.” And without missing a beat, my husband said, “You going in the shower first or am I?”

Next thing I know, I’m sitting alone in a hospital room, holding fresh-to-the-world Dylan in my arms. With newly minted grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles buzzing about, I must have devised some invisibility cloaking formula in order to sneak him away for our first tête-à-tête. Blessed and magical, it was. Like it was yesterday, I remember our conversation. I told him about all the plans we had together, playing with toys and weekend visits and ice-skating on our pond and private jokes. I must admit, I did most of the talking. But Dylan listened attentively. From day one, a very cool dude.

True to my word, we visited regularly when Dylan was a wee tot. I remember one weekend when he was about two-and-a-half. We went to the Vermont State Fair (if you ever wondered where Gary Larson got some of his inspiration for his goofy “Far Side” characters, go to the Vermont State Fair. Just sayin'.) With Dylan as the only child of the four adults, we doted on him. “Look here, Dylan!” “Look at that, Dylan!” “Hey buddy, check this out.” By the time we got back to the house it was late in the evening, all five of us were reeling with exhaustion. As my husband and I collapsed on the couch, little Dylan toddled in, looking a little bit like a sailor getting his sea legs, drunk with fatigue. He slurred so sincerely to us “I’ll be right back,” holding up his thumb and index finger an inch apart. “I just need a little nap first.” To this day, whenever my husband and I are too tired to keep our eyes open another minute we managed to muster enough energy to pinch our fingers together and smile, “I just need a little nap first.”

The Time from that busy day to now has flashed by in a heartbeat. Dylan is no longer my only nephew – I am now blessed with two other terrific nephews plus Dylan’s sister Autumn who I affectionately call “my favorite niece.” (The fact that she’s my only niece makes that no less true.) My own children have been born and grown taller than me in the interim as well. And now here it is today. Dylan is verging on 17-years-old. He plays guitar and sings about blisters in the sun. He is an excellent photographer (see his crab photo from this week as proof.) He skateboards and snowboards and sports a uniquely snazzy fashion sense that makes me proud of his unapologetic individuality. (The pants he wore to prom should be friggin’ framed in the Teenager Hall of Fame!) That baby in my arms is a blink away from full-fledged manhood. But you know what hasn’t changed a bit? He’s still a completely awesome human who I am blessed to know. Not to mention one very cool dude. What I just can't figure out is how he got to be 17-years-old in one short day.

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