Friday, December 27, 2013

Lost Boys

When we were kids, and even still, my older sister Melissa and I were very close and shared a lot of the same friends.  We often took classes together too.  Our mother always encouraged us to bring our friends over so she could meet them.  Usually, once they came it was hard for them to not want to be there.  Over the years we never knew who would be sleeping on the floor of one of our rooms, or on a sofa in front of the fireplace.  My mother never minded. She just threw blankets on people, made coffee for when they woke up and talked to them as adults, not children.  Because of that kids were drawn to my mother. Even after we went off to school, eventually got married, and moved away the kids from our youth would come by to see her. My wife, Karen, and I made a conscious decision that our house would be like that too.  It would always be an open house. When I came home one night from work and found her dancing the Macraena in my front room with all the little girls from down the block, I realized we made a good choice.

In the suburbs, one time Dylan almost broke his neck riding a laundry basket down the stairs; another time Danny was stunned by twelve to twenty bees, and Ted still laughs about how he nearly died on our trampoline doing a flip.  Cam has broken every Christmas decoration I ever had or spray painted the swing set.  He even streaked Meredith’s piano teacher. I had the flu that day, came home from work and caught him.  He came to me in my bed and apologized. I realized I could never ever be truly angry with these insane “lost boys” who occupy my house. They all have good parents, They are good boys. I am just another steward.guiding them the to where they want to and need to go.

I cannot travel in a car over long distances, so Karen and I decided that every year she and Meredith would go visit her family in Louisiana and I would stay back with the older boys who wanted to be close to home during the holidays. I miss being down there very much.  There is a lost boy in Louisiana that I build things with, out of PVC, that shoot really big fireworks.  Jeff, the husband of crazy Aunt Lisa, once said, “Why don’t you stand back so when the news comes around you can be the one that says, ‘He was a really great guy. I don’t know how this happened. All he said was watch this.’”

 That being said, I don’t miss the chance to be with my boys, to talk to them, and figure out where they are as they grow up.  I usually have a lot of laughs too.

I have two sons, Matthew and Ben. I also have a number of boys that for various reasons, like their parents moved away and they wanted to stay, that have lived under my roof.  I love them all and consider them also my sons.  Some of them played lacrosse.  When she was little she couldn’t say lacrosse right, so she used to always refer to the boys that visited or stayed with us as the “lost boys.”

I have had the “lost boys” in my life now for many years. I have watched them grow into men, graduate and pursue careers in which I think they will be very successful. My oldest, Ben, is a film maker, my second son, Matthew, is studying to understand the brain.  The others are geologists, graphic artists and writers. My wife always warns me not to try to keep up with them but it is hard when you have young, smart people in the house. You learn to ignore the the holes in the walls made in sudden anger and the broken television screens, because you don't ever want to lose them. They need me and I need them too.

As they all are in or approaching their twenties, things in the open house are getting more interesting … and it harder to keep up.  Ben came to me and told me he would not ever be living with us again, which I expected. I imagine he will go California when he is done with school or continue to live in the city, but aside from visits, it will not be here anymore. I still have Matthew, but the time I have with him is shortening before he goes on to his next adventure in pre-med. Zayn, the artist, lives with Ben so I get to see him frequently. Steven, the poet, and Austin, the geologist , who wants look at rocks on Venus, will go back to school farther away so not so much.  Our close friend, Will, wants to go to South America to study plants.   Like the weather, they all leave.

Yesterday after Karen left in the very early morning, me and the boys slept a lot, then when we woke up and we made dinner from leftovers, played a game called “Cards Against Humanity,” walked and drank a lot of beer. They are awesome guys. They have made sure I was always steady, took my medicine, and fetched me my cane when I needed it. They cleaned up plates, the floors, the bathrooms and served as escorts who watched me go up the stairs when it was time for bed and I could not keep up with them any longer.  

Tonight we have a repeat and there are girls here too.  We’ll see how this goes. Right now I am afraid that one of few things will happen: they will decide to recreate the sleeping bag stair sledding incident or will put on their lacrosse gear and do locker boxing. We have already played the wicked game in which the phrase, “Fucking Catalina Drink Mix” was used, so I guess I know what I have got into. I just hope they do too.  For me, I’m going headfirst down a waterslide and hope I survive.

I live for six things primarily.  One is to make sure my wife is happy, because I love her. The second is to make my daughter always thinks and feels she is a princess. The third is to be a dad to all of my boys, real and fictive … to make sure they have someone to talk to. The fourth is to be a good brother to my five siblings, so I can pay them back for all the kindness they have given to me. The fifth is being a neighbor that is respected because he is nice and willing to help them.  The sixth is me and my perception of God. I can’t take care of the other five if I don’t have the sixth.

 The “lost boys“ are here again tonight. We ate ravioli and lasagna, played our wicked card game again and now they have left me with a beer so I can write. They totally ate all the dinner I made for them awhile ago, leaving me nothing, and are ordering pizza.  Locusts. Soon though they will come up to talk to me and receive even more food and/or beer. I’m looking forward to that. I always look forward to the discussions I have with my boys who I love.

The other thing I am looking forward to is my wife and daughter coming home.  You have to have a mix of good, clean craziness with rational, sane people too.  Besides I do love those girls and just want them beside me. It’s fun to be with the “lost boys” for awhile, but I need my favorite women in my life. I need a smart, pretty girl that calls me Tom but that I also know loves her daddy. I especially need someone who calls me "Thomas" and tells me that no matter what happens she will love me and be with me forever.