I stood outside the seafood restaurant with my two sons waiting for my father to arrive. The day was blistering hot - the kind of heat that only summer days in the Southern Gulf states can bring. As the sun beat down upon my head and shoulders, I felt like I was breathing into a hot, wet towel. You could almost drink the air. I stood at the door and noticed the fishing paraphenalia that was strewn about on benches and in front of the restaurant, the kind of kitschy decor that seems common to seafood places. Except I had never noticed it here before. This was my hometown, childhood seafood restaurant, and I had never thought of it as kitschy at all. But, then again, I had never spent much time waiting outside the front door. Usually, we were all together and we just walked right in.
I saw my Dad's car driving up and I lost him as he parked on the side of the building. I waited for him to come around the corner of the seafood shop, past the nets and crab traps, and the old anchor that I was just looking at that I had never noticed before. Instead, he stuck his head out of the front glass door and called out for us to come on in. I didn't know how he got in the restaurant without coming our way, and when I went in, I noticed that he came in a side door. Confused, I asked, "Is that door new, or was it there before?" "It's been there," he said. "Let's get something to eat!" I've been coming to this restaurant since I was a kid and I've never noticed that door. I came looking for the familiar and hadn't found it yet.
I hadn't seen my Dad in about four months, and even then, I only saw him for a little while. I live a state over and I don't get home as often as I'd like. He is getting older and I know that I need to make it home more often, but, you know, life is so busy. That's my excuse. I hate that word, "busy." How "busy" are we really? We spend a lot of time supporting the lifestyle of our choosing, even if we are having to work really hard just to make ends meet. Most of our busyness is about choices, but we act like we are victims of this state of turmoil that takes us over and makes us do all the things that we don't want to do. We aren't as much "busy" as we are consumed with living the life that at some point we decided was the life that we wanted to live but have now forgotten why. That life, for me, didn't leave me much time to travel home and see my Dad. Today, I was trying to change that, at least a little.