Looking back it was so fast

from the film Stand By Me

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

It was only a two mile drive, so my car’s defroster was still working to reach the outer edges of the seasons first frost. I sat alone in my car, the darkest hour, just before sunrise. I was parked at the trail head of one of my favorite trails.

I sat in the empty parking lot in the dark. The frost on my windshield slowly melted and slid as the dark outside gave way.  I could see the entrance to the trail.

A few days ago my friend Michael sent me a link to a blog post written by actor Wil Wheaton. In some ways I feel like I grew up with Wil Wheaton, although I don’t know him. He starred in the film Stand By Me about a group of childhood friends taking an adventure and coming of age. Michael and I watched the movie dozens of times with our tight-knit group of friends. We were about the same age as the group of boys in the movie. So we took the adventure to see a dead body with them, over and over. We sat up late and watched it in each other’s basements and living rooms. Sometimes we played The Legend of Zelda or Castlevania late into the night. But on nights when we watched Stand By Me we snuck out into the darkness of our neighborhood and wandered between houses, through the woods, near the lake. We often ended up on the playground of our elementary school. We talked about the future, secluded from the world off of our lake peninsula community.

I think back to those years, when my friends and I ran through the woods together, climbed high in trees with plywood, 2×4’s and pockets full of nails, buried marbles in fields, sailed boats made of old styrofoam dock floats across the lake, played home run derby in empty lots now covered with brick homes.

I thought about Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix, and childhood’s passage. How Wil chose one path and River another. How I chose one path and my friends each chose their own. I’m fortunate to still have many of those boys in my life. But sometimes I wonder about the ghosts. And those nights on the playground, laying on our backs on the concrete basketball court looking up at the night sky.

I think about the boys crossing this bridge in Stand By Me. I think about how life looks different than the pictures of adulthood we imagined. Harder sometimes than we imagined. But often greater than our wildest imaginations.

Time used to pass slow on days when we climbed on top of boat docks and dove into the lake below. Somewhere beneath the green cove where the water turned from August warm to mysterious cold, time sped up, flooded past. Each time. Looking back it was so fast.

You’ll never have friends like the ones you made in grade school.

Outside of the car in the cold I exhaled and watched as it froze and hung, only for a second, and then disappeared. I considered how deep into the woods to chase it.

I love you,

– Daddy

Training: Off season

Sat: Ran 4 miles / lifted weights

Sun: 8 mile trail run

Mon: rest

Tues: Swam 1000