In the evening, I would sit there and pop the cap off a cold bottle of beer and thump my ass down onto the couch while the kids dumped their generic Legos all over the floor in front of the TV.
The dogs would wander in, take a good long drag, and exhale just enough air to let me know that they were experiencing yet another major letdown. Nothing cooking/nothing new/nothing. It's an ancient kind of sigh, the same one even 10th century wolves used to whimper into the setting sun when they would just park their exhausted ass out in front of their caves; thirty thousand wild sexual hungry sonsofbitches bored to death by the whole bullshit 'wilderness experience'.
I'd flip the channels until I came across Anthony Bourdain somewhere. He was always on after a while, like Dora or Judge Judy, a man in posession of a hundred channels at once it seemed to me. Either that or I always just tuned in at the right time, I guess.
Vietnam. Cambodia. Northern India.
Take me, bitch.
That first sip of evening beer is something most people don't spend much time waxing about, but I don't care much about that or why that is. If you think you have better things to sing your private songs about, well good for you. Me, I found so many bolts of lightning in the first cool stream of cheap pilsner running down my hatch that to try and describe it all to you would've taken me ten lifetimes. I didn't have that kind of time; I always knew that much.
Love, freedom, death, sadness, lonliness, horniness, wanderlust, glory, nostalgia, sunsets , shooting stars, catching an arrow with your bare hand, perfect Moonwalking across midnight linoleum, the refreshing trickle of sweat down your forehead just after you've puked up the Devil from your guts, hangnail pain subsiding, letting go of heartbreak, toothpicking the half skin of a popcorn seed from between two of your backest teeth, letting go in the bedroom, fresh cilantro and lime, going a decade without getting punched, hearing the kid's voices in their bedrooms in the morning, wide open fucking road, letting go in the bathroom, the unspoken brotherhood of Christmas crowds, ducks mating forever, city pizza: I found all of that and more in the first sip.
But after that, you were on you own.
You cannot live inside a single solitary taste forever, man.
These things come and go quick, you know. You just have to learn to appreciate it. And then, more importantly, you have to learn that you cannot chase it down. Not tonight, not tomorrow night. You are way too fat and too slow and too tired to catch up to something so wild and free. It makes the Gods laugh to even watch you think about it.
Realize this, Mac.
A fast train blows by you in a gush of power. So does just about everything else.
I would sit there with Henry climbing up in my lap so he could look at whatever I might be looking at on my laptop screen while I was in/out of the TV show and he would ask me over and over again, "What's dat?" as he would point at the pictures of some damn stranger's trout I was wasting time looking at or whatever and I would kiss his ear hole and run my fingers through his hair with pieces of spring grass in there and tiny flecks of twig while Violet spun around the room and talked to herself in excitable after-dinner tones and I would let the first sip drizzle down over my tired heart and my rancid guts like good soft rain.
Other men before me had lassoed this feeling, or at least tried; too many men, I guess you could say. But that's the nature of the beast, you see. If you offer most men the chance to feel like a waterfall for just a moment in time, they will spend the rest of their days hunting down that feeling even though, by dawn, it is fifty mountains away and rolling west at a clip.
I was never unaware of anything, I don't think. I was on top of it all even when it was laying on me on a summer afternoon, whispering in my ear, "Tell me what you like about me..."
Henry would hit the floor with his gummi feet and head out in search of chocolate milk. Violet would spin and spin and tire and her eyes would ultimately turn into the 8 o'clock clams of exhaustion. My wife would be by the washing machine and I would hear the faint metallic rumble of the lid falling, thudding, the water shooting from the hose into the dark hall of dirty jeans.
The adult dinner cooling on the stove; us trying to wait to eat it until the kids had gone to bed, so we could get our 20 minutes of sitcom/head upstairs to our respective novels in the lamplight/our individual email accounts in our seperate lightless rooms, the evening's first sip riding a hot wave of piss down the lonesome pipes towards an ocean so far away that you'd have to be a goddamn fool to even begin to think about all of that.