About myself. About my strengths, and frailties. About my family, about love. About my wife, whom I love more than ever. About my son, whom I admire now, not just as a father, but as a man whose maturity is hard-won, one with his own stories to tell.
About community, about belonging. About blogging. About you.
Mainly it’s taught me about what works. What works for me. What eases pain, what calms my nerves, what helps me keep panic at bay.
What works for me, when I get nervous, are talking, writing and walking. Talking about my problems relieves my pain. Writing about them helps put them in perspective. (Coca-Cola, when I’m real nervous and can’t eat, can be a blessing. Music, fitting my mood, playing in the background.)
Walking, which is the exercise my father favored before I knew him, the exercise my son favors now, may work best of all.
Once this is over I have made some vows. I will get help for my own condition, help I have put off by hiding from the world behind a typewriter. I will become more involved in the community, with neighborhood groups, perhaps with my son’s church. I will become an advocate, hoping to give others some benefit from lessons hard-won.
But first, let’s take a walk.
In the present
case, my dream takes place just hours from now. My son has either been
acquitted of hitting his teacher, or his sentence has been reduced, the
threat of expulsion for this honor student removed.
I imagine how I will feel then. I imagine hugging my wife, shaking
hands with my son’s attorney, about my son’s broad smile, about the
feeling of inner peace, and exhaustion, that will come over me then,
the kind I feel after a long bike ride, the kind a soldier feels on
first sight of home.
I also have nightmares on my walk. The tribunal lacks sympathy. The evidence,
much of which I have not been shown so far, is overwhelming. My son becomes
the Great White Defendant. An example must be made, lest lesser
students also stray. Banishment, and either his ADHD isn’t recognized
or isn’t given proper weight. What happens then to his Chinese lessons, his
Arabic lessons, his shot at college? I see myself 20 years from now, my
son still living at home, perhaps working at a menial job, without a
high school diploma, with no hope of making a positive difference in
These dreams and nightmares share space in my head as I walk. I know they also
share space in the head of my wife, and while he is loathe to admit it,
my son’s head as well. It’s like the excitement Law & Order tries
to create at the end of some shows, when the writers decide to end on a
verdict, and you know the D.A. might lose, because the defendant is
rich, his politics popular, her strategy beguiling, or a reasonable
How does the jury find, guilty or not guilty? Your
heart goes to your throat, even though it’s fiction.
This isn’t. This nightmare has been with me for nearly 2 weeks now.
I have done everything possible to get ready for what follows this
post. We have prepared a case, we have prepared arguments for
mitigation, prepared for what might follow, we have sought to steel
But there’s no real hope of the last, and every moment which
goes by my own panic builds, my fingers tap the keys with increased
It really is Halloween.
Trick or treat?
I’ll let you know.
UPDATE: Still no word. The case was argued, it was taken up by the authorities, we’re supposed to be able to call this afternoon for a verdict. Halloween goes into overtime.