My oldest son celebrated his 13th birthday by inviting nine of his friends to watch and play football at our house yesterday. My basement still smells like boy sweat this morning.
His friends are sweet, funny kids who, as they grow in confidence and appreciate their own unique personalities, are increasingly having fun together. Big puppies with size 10 feet.
And watching my now teenage son with his friends, I saw my younger self.
During the party, he watched the Packers beat the Rams (24-10), sometimes the only one still cheering, as the other boys climbed over him, dressed in old Halloween costumes, and waged war from the laundry room back to the couch where he sat… smiling and utterly happy.
My freshman year in college, still wearing my shy high school persona, I decided that I would no longer wait for people to seek me out. I understood that being shy meant lost opportunities. And just downstairs from my apartment lived three guys who were smart, cool and hysterically funny. Their energy together drew in others so that their apartment was always the center of creativity and good times.
So every night, I gathered my courage, went downstairs and sat on their couch. I didn’t talk much. I just soaked it all in. I laughed a lot. I memorized the quotes they painted on their walls. I learned the words to their music (a lot of Squeeze and Talking Heads), and we eventually became good friends.
Yesterday brought that all back… “And She Was” singing in my head…
Thirty years later, my son, grinning on another couch in our smelly, loud basement, weaving cautiously, awkwardly in and out of the boys’ raucous play, but embraced by his friends and thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful moment in time.