Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Graduation Trip, Part 2

Every motion by the people upstairs from us was audible to us. Their floor (our ceiling) creaked like an old sailing ship. It was worrisome at times; so loud were the creaks and groans that I wondered if the building would be standing after their children finished stomping around. And to be fair, they could have been tiptoeing for all I know; creak-creak-creak-groan was all we heard.

"We" isn't accurate. My son is eighteen and I don't think he heard anything at all. Whereas I, with the worries of the world on my shoulders, woke up with a start and couldn't go back to sleep, the teenager lightly snored his way through the whole aria folks upstairs preparing to leave, and then leaving.

Making the noise worse as the snowplow outside. Overnight six inches of nice, powdery snow had fallen and the hotel's maintenance folks were busy scraping the walkways and parking lot.

These are some of the reasons I wanted to be downtown. Knowing I wake up early, I wanted to have a coffee shop to walk to so my son could sleep late. Our ski lesson starts at 10:30; we need to be there by 9:30. I was up at 6:00 and it was a lot of time to just sit and listen to the building groan its displeasure at being up so early.

Eventually my son woke up and we drove to Dunkin Doughnuts for a quick breakfast, then on to Wildcat Mountain.

Turns out there was another scheduling snafu and our ski school appointment wasn't made for Wildcat, where I requested, but for Attitash Mountain which was only a mile from our motel. I suppose we could have gone there; I had no real preference, honestly, but picked Wildcat because my friend said it was the better option. The email didn't say which mountain the reservation was at, so I assumed they'd made it for the place I requested.

It worked out; they squeezed us in and we were outside for our ski school lesson early: 10:15.

Except the ski school lesson at Wildcat starts at 10:00.

No problem. The instructors were easily the nicest people I've met in a long time, and they worked us in. I wasn't sure if I needed the lesson; the last time I was on skis was seventeen years prior. Our lesson filled in a lot of gaps for me, raised my awareness back to where it needed to be, and my son proved to me that he was, after all, a Worth; every fall was followed immediately by getting back up and trying again.

After almost three hours, the lesson ended. We went inside to eat a quick bite, rested, and spent the next two hours on the slopes. Ski, fall down, stand up, ski, take the lift back up, repeat. After two or three runs, during which I enforced the idea that my son shouldn't try to go straight down the hill (the only thing the instructor didn't really cover). He got the hang of it and I went to the slightly more advanced runs. The resort slowly emptied as the end of the day approached; he and I wanted to keep at it, to ski more, but eventually the lift closed and we had to finish.

That night we went to Tuckerman's, a classic local establishment. The wait was an hour, except for the bar, and wouldn't you know it, there were two seats open at the bar, so we sat down. They changed the channel to the Olympics. I ordered a nice Stout and some wings; both were excellent. The wings, in particular, were some of the best I've had, though the bartender said another place in town (the name of which I've forgotten) was better. That is hard to fathom, since the Tuckerman's wings were easily in the top five of any I've ever had. I ordered the meatloaf, which was also excellent. My son got the pulled pork, which was mediocre; there's a lesson there: be ware of pulled pork in areas not famous for their barbecue.

It was still a great end to the day. We talked, old friends, buddies. He's growing into a man, and I have to transition to being that for him, a person he can come to for advice rather than the person who tells him what to do.

The next day, our return day, wasn't interesting. We started at a coffee shop in North Conway; it wasn't very good, decent at best, before making the drive to the outlet mall at Kittery Maine, where we shopped a little, and then had breakfast for lunch at Country View Restaurant. Sometimes you find places that just resonate with you, and that's what Country View was for both of us. We ordered the full breakfast, and then out came these pancakes at least a foot in diameter. I tried to eat my fill, but I couldn't. There was simply too much food. It was little embarrassing, but we had to give up and the plates were taken away with pancake left, though we did finish the rest, which included excellent bacon, sausage, and hashbrowns.

At the airport in Manchester, as we turned in the car, my son thanked me for a great vacation.

I almost cried.

Not almost. I did. Just a little. I might not have done a lot right in this world; I have asshole tendencies and can be hard to get along with. And there's still plenty of time to screw things up. But that moment, just for that short whisper of time, I felt like maybe I'd done the parenting thing okay so far.