As brief a backstory as possible. We’d been married for 8(ish) years. Like a permanent date. Had good jobs, had almost no responsibility. Did pretty much whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Around year 8 or 9 we decided it was time to have kids. Four years and a lot of very expensive help from science, and we had our first kid. My boy.
I instantly understood what I’d heard so many men say: this wasn’t just a child. It’s my most important legacy. And then almost as soon as the excitement of the opportunity wore off, the significance set in.
Then I looked at the calendar and saw the big 4-0 approaching. Age doesn’t bother me – until I realize that my boss is 1 year older than me and OWNS the $50 Million company that I work for. Did I squander an entire decade? The blog of manly was supposed to be the realization of my calling; it was gone. I had gotten everything I wanted out of my jobs, which was not much. Not a ton of money in the bank and a loan payable to science with a monthly payment larger than my mortgage. AH!
About a year ago my wife and I came to another decision. You see, when it comes to babies, science does things in bulk. In other words, my son’s twin was “on ice” so to speak. That was another responsibility that started weighing on me. So, fire up the old baby defroster and – BOOM – twice as many shit machines running around the house (soon anyway).
I looked at my wife; I adore her. I looked at my son; he’s my pride and joy. Then I looked in a mirror and said, “What the f*%k have I done?”
The questions started pouring into my mind. Career. Money. Retirement. House. Diapers. Formula. Daycare. Private School. Faith. Skills. Sports. Adventure. Adolescence. Dating… My decision to wait and make every adult decision within the same 36 month period at the end of my thirties was a TERRIBLE decision.
Me: “Wife, I need a vacation and you’re not invited.”
It wasn’t quite that cut and dried, but she quickly saw where I was coming from and got excited for me.
So, I planned my Southwest road trip.
This wasn’t a figure it all out trip. This was a clear my head and re-orient myself trip. I visited places that bring me joy. I drove a car that was fun to drive. I smoked as many of my favorite cigar as I could. I stayed in nice rooms. I argued with you guys about (what i said about) the cops on Facebook.
And I deliberately avoided solving any problems.
The problems will get solved. I have a great job – even if I could have set myself up better. We have enough money – even if we weren’t always as responsible as we should’ve been. We have a great house – even if every time I look at it I see no way we’re getting out of it without cashing out our retirements for repairs (exaggeration). The kids will grow up loved, fed, and happy. My marriage will be the stuff of legends.
And I want to be there for it. In the moment. Engaged. Having the time of my life – not worried about some stuff that’s already handled.
So, this trip was a quick recalibration about what it means to live in the moment and enjoy the awesome things happening around me.
And it was a hell of a trip.