I have no idea how long this update will be, so we'll just go with it...

Last week I get a call from the detective working my case. She had just talked with a witness and the suspect, and came at me with a lot of attitude, almost like I was trying to pull one over on her or lie about what happened. Apparently, the suspect told her that I stepped towards him, and that's when he hit me. She also said that they did not flee the scene, since there was no crime committed. I have no idea where the attitude came from, but she was being very unpleasant towards me and basically said that since I don't remember anything and there are no other witnesses, that nothing will ever come from it. I was pretty upset for a while, but then tried to put it into terms that I could deal with. I started off by trying to convince myself that since I was insulting him (even though I was just joking around I'm sure) and I did go outside with him when he asked me, and I was black-out drunk, that it may have just been a wake up call that I need to evaluate what I do on the weekends. I was talking with my good friend yesterday who basically said the same thing, that I could have easily been on the other side of the case and have not been charged with things in the past few years that I could have easily been thrown in jail for.

I think I do need to grow up a little bit and stop getting drunk to the point where I don't remember half of the night. It will help to get over the whole situation when the marks on my face finally disappear, although there will probably be a scar on my nose and lip.

After work on thursday, I drove back home so that Mom, Dad and I could leave for Collingswood, NJ to visit my aunt and uncle. They had just finished remodelling a house. When I got home, my dad barely says hi to me, and I try not to care. Mom was telling me how Dad didn't even really want to go because he would rather stay home. My dad doesn't ever want to leave the comfort of his house, even though before they were retired he swore up and down that they would travel all over the place. So he was grumpy and anti-social basically the whole ride out there. We left at midnight and arrived around 7:30am. My aunt and uncle had to work, so Dad and I went to Atlantic City to do some gambling. We didn't win, but it was fun. We went back to the house and spent a relaxing night grilling out, eating and taking a walk.

Their house is unbelieveable and the kitchen/living room is huge. During dinner I heard a story about how mom and dad went to help my aunt and uncle move in together before they were married, and when my grandparents found out, they cried and wondered what the neighbors would think. My grandma even called my aunt a slut for a few weeks until they were married. I was trying to figure out how my grandparents could be this rash and hurtful, but couldn't really picture it. It was basically the only time my dad was smiling since I had arrived at home.

The next day we went shopping and my uncle bought a huge 50" plasma screen television. It was awesome. The picture is remarkably clear. I can't wait to make that kind of money so I can afford luxuries like that. We cooked out again that night and dad continued to be distant and anti-social. He doesn't even like to visit his own sister. We left Sunday a little after 8.

On the ride home I couldn't help but focus on how much of an asshole my dad was being and I couldn't figure out why. He said very few words on the way home except to say that I should not expect him to go an hour out of his way when they come down in the next week to visit my former roomate's parents and pick up some delicious pork chops. I distinctly remember him saying that they were going to visit these people when they were fully retired, but now he seems to not want to do a fucking thing. My mom also said something to dad on the way home about getting reservations for a restaurant about an hour away because she had a gift certificate. My dad had no interest in going, and said that she should take "the girls". His excuse was that he didn't know if he was going to go fishing on that day or not, even though he just got finished saying that he didn't really want to go fishing tommorow. That really made me feel bad for my mom and also pissed me off about the whole thing. By the time I left to go back to Dayton, I was pretty pissed off about the whole thing. I think part of the anger was because I am a lot like my dad and sometimes I think that I am destined to turn into him. My dad used to tell me how I would never meet a nicer person than his dad, but he also has stories of my grandfather being a very unpleasant person. For instance, my dad went to Kent State, and was on campus during the shootings. When my dad got home after that, the first thing my grandpa said was that they should have shot more students.

I simply cannot picture my grandpa saying these things, but wonder if my grandparents softened up over time due to grandchildren and such. This made me wonder if my father is destined to become a nice man in due time. The whole weekend made me feel really bad for my mom because she would really like to travel and my dad has no interest at all. The funny thing is that my mom was the one I fought with through my teenage angst, not my dad, and now I understand her much better than I understand him. I would not blame her a bit if she left him so that she could do whatever she wanted. I hope that he doesn't hold her back from doing what she wants. I would travel with her in a heartbeat to go anywhere she wants. I also feel bad that I gave her so much trouble when I was younger. She is so patient with everyone, and I am not patient at all with her. That will change. When I left to go back home, I told her she could come see me any time she wants.

Well, this is the first time since 4th grade that I will not be playing football. I can't remember if I did a writeup about the whole situation, but the head coach does not like me very much (I have long hair, a good sense of humor and I don't worship him), but we had always been able to operate on a professional level. To make a long story short, he said that I could not play this coming year because my graduate school classes would conflict too much with practices...even though it was no worse than it had been in the past 2 years. The reason I bring this up is that it will be pretty tough to not play this year. I don't know if I'm going to be able to go to any games because I miss it so much. I will just have to get through it. In the next few weeks I will probably have a lot of w/u's with some memories and reflections about football.

RunningHammer started kindergarten today. He has been anxious and nervous about this day for weeks -- so much so that he hasn't slept too well for the past few days. Not that we haven't tried to make the transition easy. His teacher has visited us at the house and talked to him about kindergarten (she did that with her whole class), and we've visited his classroom so he knows where everything is. Vix and I and the boys have told him what a great time he's going to have.

Last night, just before bedtime with Hammer scrubbed and fresh in his dinosaur t-shirt and Hulk boxers, I walked past his room where he and SweetFaceBoy were building Legos.

"... and you have a really nice sleepmat for naps," SFB said. "But if you don't want to nap, you don't have to. You can just rest."

"OK, that's good." The search clicking and build snapping of Legos.

"And you get two snack times and at the end of the day you might get story time."

"My classroom is the closest to the playground."

"See? Another good thing. Hey, let's pretend I'm that kid Cameron you met when we went to see your classroom, OK?"


"Hi, Hammer! Do you remember me?"

"Yes, you are Cameron." Click-click, snap-snap.

"Do you want to play something?"


"What do you want to play?"

"How about blocks?"

"That's great. I like building blocks.... See, Hammer? It's just like that. It's easy."

Then Vix needed me for something, and I abandoned my eavesdropping.

Despite the assurances and preparations, this morning did not unfold without some drama. After breakfast and brushing teeth and getting dressed, I took First Day of School pictures. We made sure he had everything in his backpack (lunchbox and pencil case). After a hug from TinyGranny and high-fives from the boys, Vix and I drove him to school.

We parked a couple of blocks away to avoid the traffic madness. He walked between us holding our hands, my youngest son starting a new chapter of his life. "I just hope they don't ruin him," Vix had told me earlier that morning.

Everything seemed OK with him until we got in to the kindergarten line. Kids and parents and teachers -- unfamiliar faces all -- jostled and crowded under a covered walkway at the front of the school, the voices clanging off the metal roof and brick wall. The waterworks began. "I don't want to go this day! I want to go next day!"

I wanted to pick him up and run to the car, whispering that everything will be alright, kissing away his tears and telling him we'll go home and have a second breakfast and count the bees in the basil garden and count the lizards on the playset, then go for a walk around the neighborhood searching for treasures in a flying pirate ship of our imaginations and when we dock we'll water the orchids in the backyard and do cannonballs in the pool and play Daddy Whale-Baby Whale and then dry off in the sun and have a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and string cheese and grapes while watching Tom and Jerry and then remember too late that it's time to get the boys from school and we'll get Slurpees on the way home. This is what I wanted to whisper in his ear as I ran with him to the car because I'm not ready for him to leave and have his innocence shaved away, his wild joy squashed.

Instead, Vix took him by the hand and pulled him out of line to talk him down. I saved our place in line. It let me take a few deep breaths and stem my own tears.

They returned. Hammer was teary-faced. I smiled at him and gave a quick squeeze to his hand in mine. The line started moving and Vix said, "Show me where your classroom is."

Hold it together, hold it together.

His teacher met us at the classroom. He sniffled and blinked huge drops. She knelt to give him a hug. "Oh, I think you and I might shed some tears together today, buddy," she said.

Hold it together.

As we walked him to his table, he cried again. "But I want to go next day!"

We hugged him and told him not to cry, that he had many things to tell us about later, that he would make new friends, that he would play on a new playground and that he would learn wonderful things. He still cried and held on to me tightly.

Hold it together.

And then we left.

Vix left first. I walked slowly, not wanting to go, not wanting to let go. I'd mentioned to Vix that if he had to go to school, at least I should be able to stick around in the classroom or in the hallway just to make sure he's OK and that everything goes well. "Oh, sure," she said, "and I'm positive he'll be happy when you are hauled away."

I waved and smiled at his tear-streaked face and said "Have a great day, buddy" and walked out the door.

Hold it together.

Vix waited for me in the hall. "Do you want some coffee and a bagel? The cafeteria is set up for the kindergarten parents."

"No. Let's get out of here."

"You are so antisocial."

"True, but we have to get home before the big boys leave for their first day." The hidden and more profound truth is that I just wanted to get out of there.

We drove home in silence. NPR informed us about the 40 people the Israeli bombs had killed in Lebannon. "Don't tell the boys he cried," she said. "And don't tell my mom, either."

We came home and saw the boys -- old soldiers, each one -- off to school, picked up by their carpool. Then Vix took off for an appointment. The house empty, I poured a cup of coffee. I saw a plastic bag that Hammer's teacher had given Vix lying on the kitchen counter. In it was a cotton ball, a tissue and a bag of tea. Apparently she had given one to a parent of each child. A note inside the bag read:

Dear Family,

Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I promise to do my best everyday to be your child's companion in learning. After you have wiped your tears, make yourself a nice warm cup of tea. Put your feet up and relax. Then hold the cotton ball in your hand. The softness will help you recall the gentle spirit of your child. I will work alongside you this year to help your child grow!


Maybe, I thought to myself, he'll be OK.

And then I cried.

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