Why I Work

Every single day the first thing my eldest son tells me when I come home from work is: “I missed you!”

He says it just like that, with an exclamation point. He says it like he hasn’t seen me in years.

As endearing and loving as this sincere gesture of my son is to me, it’s probably the hardest part of my day.

Right now I am writing my column for the week, only minutes before its deadline, and I am dreading arriving home to my little house.

I am dreading the loving embrace of my family, and the sweet tenders of their affection.

Of course, my apprehension is not due to some absurd loathing of my precious ones but due to the inevitable question that arises when I realize that I have been away from them for nearly ten hours: “Why am I doing this?”

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Last night my family and I braved the elements in order to observe our local high school wage gridiron battle with that of another rural East Texas community. It was the first time I had been back in my hometown for a Homecoming game in many years, and it was a surreal experience.

To begin with, the difference in context is vast. If memory is to be trusted, the last homecoming game I attended was within a couple years of my graduation, more than a decade ago. I remember how I inwardly scoffed at this provincial fête with all of its earnest self-importance and small-town pageantry.

A hard-line atheist with the clichéd anarchistic leanings of post-adolescence, I rolled my eyes at the invocation and even yawned during the national anthem. Such is the distinct privilege of being an ungrateful youth.

During the game, I’m sure I was standing along the gates with every other “has-been” and “never-was” complaining about everything that was occurring on the field, thumping our chests about how hard we had it or how great we were “in our day” and how our deeds will always overshadow those who dare to come after.
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Transience of the Seasons

A colleague of mine recently expressed sincere astonishment that we are now in the month of September. “It’s September?” she asked, almost doubting the calendar that was right before her eyes.

I have to admit, I hesitated.

On a certain, purely academic, level I knew that August was drawing to a close. My public school upbringing provided me with enough of a background to know the months of the year but, at my co-worker’s exclamation, I realized that I had lost track of the season.

It’s one thing to lose track of time, to allow a 30-minute lunch break to become an hour, but to look up and suddenly realize that another year is about to draw to a close is something else altogether.

“Wasn’t it just June?” I responded, for so it seemed.

I remember talking to my eldest daughter about how June was essentially the mid-point of the year. I remember her wide-eyed wonder at the thought that another year was already half over.

“But the year just started!” she lamented.

Thus was my firstborn child introduced to the transience of the seasons.

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