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California dreamin'

My kiddo and I have been talking for a long time. I'm on the couch at my Eagle Rock AirBnB, a casita that's decked out in IKEA furnishings with a gorgeously landscaped pool and yard at my disposal. The neighborhood is posh and quiet. For moments at a time I forget that I'm in the crushingly hectic and smog-choked city of Los Angeles. I forget that I am in the city that my son now calls home.

For the past couple of hours Kiddo has stood, or paced. Or rather vibrated. He's keeps filling his water glass. He's snacking on trail mix. He's talking about his music, his band. He fills me in on plans. Plans take shape as he talks. He's pumped about his future. The conversation takes a turn, and we talk about family, then the environment, then more about music.

It's my last night with Kiddo here in LA, and I know I won't see him again for months. I'm doing my best to fill up on his energy.

My 21-year-old son now lives in Los Angeles. All he's ever wanted to do is make music. Sure, he's broke and hungry. He's acutely aware of his chances, of the fragility of his dreams. But he's so alive.

I am impressed and so very proud of my son. Not everyone is brave enough to pack up and move across the country. Not everyone is courageous enough to figure out how to meet their futures. At his age I was tucked into a small college in the Midwest. I sure didn't possess his fearlessness in my twenties.

I came to LA for a couple of reasons, though I was rather unaware of them at the time of scheduling my trip out. One reason I'm here is to relive those road trips of summers past. Back when he was a teen, we'd go for 10 or 12 days at a time. We'd hit the road to go to Yellowstone or Austin, to Acadia National Park, to the Rockies. And as the landscape whipped by us, we would just be together. We'd take in the world, eat junk food, listen to music. This time we fit in a two-day trip to Joshua Tree National Park, a day trip up to Malibu. We hit a late matinee in Pasadena, ate Mexican and Cuban food. We hung together, drank smoothies, laughed to Louis CK, talked, and of course, listened to music. Recapturing old times was a little bit of bliss.

No less important was bearing witness to Kiddo's present and future. I needed to see for myself Kiddo living his new adult life; to see him living his life somewhere other than with me. It was a shock to the system walking into his rented house that he shares with his best friend. It felt weird when he fetched me a glass of water from his tidy kitchen. It was surreal when he showed me his room and the curtains he bought to keep out the morning light. It felt like another world when he took the keys to my car and drove us into Hollywood. This is my boy, and I've met him out in the world, just like I said I would, I thought to myself.

And then I thought, I'm likely to never live in the same state as my son again.

While that thought made me weepy, I remembered that I want to be out in the world. Kiddo's dreams have given me permission and inspiration to change my life, to chase my dreams.

What a gift he gave me.

As our time together winds down, I try to breath and to focus on this person I brought into the world. Kiddo gives me a hug before he walks out of the AirBnB for the night. In the morning he returns and we go for a last fancy cup of coffee at the shop of his choice. Then I begin the 2,000-plus mile drive back home and begin planning the next trip, the next destination where I'll meet my son. I wonder how much each of us will have changed when we get there.

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