When we went on vacation to celebrate, uh, vacation, as well as our tenth-year anniversary, me and Dawn left the boy at home. We were nervous. We weren’t sure if we should leave him. We knew it would be costly to take him with us. That made the decision more than anything, the cost.
My son doesn’t drive. He doesn’t work. He brings no money into the home. In fact, he’s one big expense. So we saved when we left him at home. The cruise line told us we’d have to pay the same price for him—a kid not even two years old—as we’d pay for ourselves. That was ridiculous. I mean, I like my son. I think he’s cute. He’s smart, and he can be pretty tamed in social situations. In my mother’s words, the boy has some sense. But paying the same price I would for myself, for my wife? Well, I don’t know that I like my son that much. It took me and Dawn ten years to decide to cruise in Europe. Ten years to pay for plane tickets to Barcelona. Ten years to board that ship and pass that photographer and the deep red orange backdrop where all those happy travelers snapped pictures we refused to take while boarding. Bryce showed up 18 months ago. He hasn’t earned the trip.
So we left him. The good thing is we returned. I had my doubts lying on the Lido deck, listening to that terrible band singing Michael Jackson and Billy Joel. I wasn’t sure I’d return when I went to buy stacks of toddler yogurt and all those cartons of no-sugar-added applesauce and too many bags of goldfish for our cabinets to hold. But we came back. And when we did, we were ready to see the kid. My wife had been talking about how she couldn’t wait to see him. For the last couple days it was all I heard. In fact I hardly got in my little feelings for the child, she was so vocal about seeing her little puppy.
We had seen him mid-week, chatting on Skype while at the terminal in Naples. The Swansons hosted the boy and his Grannie so we conference. We talked, and he waved and kissed at the computer, confused at first whether to hug the thing. It was his first time with Skype, and he did great. He sat through the entire conversation without fidgeting, giving his attention to us who were reduced to boxes. I turned the camera from my big forehead to his mother’s face and back again. But he talked mostly to Dawn, so he saw her a lot. He called to her, and she asked most of the questions about his well-being.
When we got off the elevator in our building, Dawn almost ran down the hall. It was cute. I hadn’t seen her so ready to be some place in a long time. You should know that my wife has a thing about being places: she takes her time. She does the opposite of rush. She lives with time and is never on time. So seeing her run entertained me. She hardly noticed that I skipped behind her keeping up with the key and my own excitements.
I unlocked the door and let Dawn in. Bryce ran to us, his voice that cross between a song and a scream and a delight all in one. My mother was saying something in the background about us being home. Bryce squealed. His eyes were smiling and he ran to his mother who was bending down to her knees to take him in. I closed the door expecting the noise to stop and not disrupt our neighbors. I looked at the love on display and rolled the suitcases to the side. I waited for my turn to be hugged and chose to simply kiss the kid when Dawn held him up and in my general direction. She was hardly ready to let him go after so long. And I thought it beautiful.