A couple years ago, on a sun-soaked August day, I was driving north from Indianapolis on US 421. I had often thought to myself, "Someday, Dad and I are going to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together" and "Someday, Dad and I will go to a baseball game together." If you’ve met my Dad, you might be somewhat surprised that he doesn’t visit The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame every year. You might be baffled to find that he had never been there before. However, if you’ve known my Dad for a while, you’d know what a luxury such a trip would be.
As I passed through sleepy little towns with frustratingly low speed limits, I began to dream about how the trip would go. I made sure I had some music ready that I wanted him to hear, and discuss with me. Not quite enough to get us to Cleveland, but I knew he’d bring some music he wanted me to hear, and discuss with him. I thought about how the game between our Yankees and the Cleveland Indians would go. I figured we’d discuss how we really enjoy both Jeter and Nick Swisher, though they couldn’t be more different. We’d be as gracious of visiting fans as we could be, in an attempt to make up for the average New York fan. At the Hall of Fame, Dad would tell me what each exhibit reminds him of – what was happening in his life, or a time he saw them live, or how the band he used to run sound for would cover the song in a certain way, etc. All said and done, I’d remember all of those stories at the Hall of Fame. I’d remember high-fiving after a Jeter RBI. I’d remember what he thought of Band of Skulls.
I pulled into his dirt driveway. On my right, the lawn, sparse as it was in such sandy soil, was recently trimmed. On the left, the grass, and other plant-life, was at least knee high. Classic. There was a lot of yard to mow, and mowers seem to break more or less constantly. Dad’s a little bit like his lawn. He’s one part mild gentleman with impeccable manners; and one part wild, untamed rock-and-roller who never grew up. He came out, finishing a cigarette, set his backpack, a stack of CDs packaged together by rubberbands, a couple hats, and his cane (in case his knee that lacked cartilege started bugging him) in the back seat.
You might think all of this day-dreaming would set expectations that guarantee I deal with a lot of disappointment, but that’s not the case. On the contrary, I love it. If things went exactly as I dreamed them, I’d be bored.
As for the drive, it was beautiful. The weather was great, and we found ourselves in winding around rivers and parks in rural northern Ohio. It was almost more beautiful, though. We went near and over several rivers in Ohio. Every time we hit a bridge over a river, Dad and I would both immediately look out our windows to take it all in. We’d then sink down a little bit, and share a rueful look, for every bridge over every river in Ohio seemed to have tall concrete barriers. These barriers block views, especially for those barreling down the highway in mid-2000s Honda Civics. That’s okay, though. We didn’t listen to and then discuss any of the music we had planned, because we were too busy just talking for hours and hours (as we do).
Our first stop was The Hall. The Hall went more or less exactly as I expected, complete with Dad’s trademark teary-eyed nostalgic moments. (He’s a crier. Seems he passed that along. Thanks, Dad.) Today, unfortunately, I can remember none of the details. I remember only that warm, glowy feeling of a great moment between people who love each other.
The baseball game was great, but not for any of the reasons you might normally think a baseball game is great. The only thing I remember about the actual baseball is that the Yankees lost, and it wasn’t that close. The real fun came away from our seats. I think we spent half the game searching for unique craft beers and deciding which giant piece of meat we were going to ingest. Seriously. We walked past every vendor we could find before making a decision. (Quarter-pound hot dog and equally as big bratwurst, both with all sorts of gut-busting additions.) We laughed at each other trying to decide what to get. We laughed at each other trying to eat it. We laughed that we kinda wanted more after finishing it all. There weren’t a lot of explicit high-fives, because the game didn’t give us many opportunities. That didn’t matter, much, though. By the time Dad ran into a metal sign on his way out of the park because he was looking the other direction, all the people laughing at him for making a child’s mistake couldn’t bring us down.
The next day, the drive home was more of the same: beautiful, mildly frustrating, full discussion I’ll never remember but consider priceless. It was 24 hours of my life I’ll never forget, and I wouldn’t trade them for any amount of wealth or comfort.
One year ago today, Dad died. I am incredibly happy we had those 24 hours. There are days when I can hardly believe we finally did it. "Did we really do that "someday" trip? People hardly ever do that "someday" trip! Can you believe we made that "someday" trip!?"
Look: "someday" is going to show up so soon, it’s going to keep on moving, and it’s going to be gone. "Someday" is going to happen, and you’re going to regret having not taken that "someday" trip, event, day you always think about. I am trying to make more of those "someday" things happen, now. You should, too. Dad’s gone, and it sucks hard, but we did that "someday" thing, and that feels great.