Friday, December 30, 2011

It's all about the toddler

This isn't the first time I've written to you from a plane seat at 36,000 feet in the air while on the way home from visiting the crew in NJ. There's something about recycled air and being on the last row of the plane near the bathroom where you only site if you have diarrhea or are anxious to meet people who do. Be that as it may, I supposed It inspires me. 

I am at the tail end of a Christmas trip to NJ to see a bunch of important people. Not to diminish my excellent friends that have come my way via the military, but they are just not blood relatives and my Jersey friends have been around for 2o+ years so they hold a special place. 

In any event this trip was unique and special. It is conceivably, the last Christmas visit I'll have to make since I could be home permanently, sooner rather than later. Even if that is not the case, next year I'll visit just long enough to see Christmas and then go back to MS to pack and move home within 90 days. In addition to friends and family I got to spend much of the time with a very special lady. And on multiple occasions I got to incorporate her into my circle, which is VERY important to me. I also made a good dent in the job search process as I spoke with friends, reconnected with old colleagues, and made some potential new ones. 

In the 7 days I was there I also got to see a 2 year, 9 month old man named Seany-Pants. He is the son of one of my best friends in the world - Dr. Jim. The life of an orthopedic surgeon generally precludes any visits while I am home let alone 2 lengthy ones like we had this time. Despite our closeness, I first met little Sean when he was already 9 months old. I next saw him just after he turned 2 and then this week. 

I had so much fun watching this pre-pre-schooler spell his name and count to 100 by 10s and recite his entire address. When I first met him, he kinda sat there, smiled and farted in my hand. On round 2, he was talkative and fun but how he is on a whole new level of interaction. After my last visit, he woke up the next day asking "where's Jason?" and that was before he would even refer to me by name when we were face to face. This time, he has affectionately dubbed me "Jase" and insists I go everywhere with him. I haven't had the courage to ask Dr. dad what little Sean-pants did the next morning this time around. Clearly, "Uncle Jason" is remiss in his duties of spoiling and/or corrupting this little buddy of mine. 

I know the adults in my life such as my parents and brother or Jim, Alan, and Linda miss me when I'm gone, but they are adults. They "get it." Little man just knows that his playmate was there one day and gone the next. He can't see the greater good of my disappearance such as professional development or duty to country. 

Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe Mr. Pants is over it and didn't notice me missing at all. Maybe it's for me. Maybe I realize, in the sweeping changes of a child's face and interaction that I'm missing important, fleeting moments as I while away the time in the heart of Dixie. As the mender of bones said, I see Sean in snapshot with a lot of important stuff missing in between. I said the last part, not Jim. 

Maybe Sean is vaguely aware that there was another person hanging him upside down while biting his belly just a day ago, but can't quite place the source of the tickling torture. I don't know. 

All I do know is that everyone understands I don't love them any less when I leave; it's just something I have to do. All except one. 

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