The little park on the shore of Lake Michigan was something the family had only recently discovered, and it was already turning cold, the leaves surrounding the park telling of an early fall. But they loved it: the playground, the view of Chicago they had from the trails, the nearby coffee house. It was a tiny urban sanctuary that only they knew about—or at least, that’s how they wanted to see it.
The father of the group was approaching his 31st birthday, and just like every year, he was becoming introspective, retrospective, all of the -spectives.
Most years he would try to quantify progress. How close was he to achieving long-stated goals? How much was his salary? How far had he traveled, metaphorically or otherwise, from his small-town point of origin?
The numbers of his years were about to become quantifiable in a more absolute way: he would no longer be able to claim that he was “at the end of his twenties.” His thirties were being thrust upon him like the cold breeze coming off the lake, and there was no shelter. He was getting older.
Still, standing at the end of a decade, he held a lot of numbers close as a source of pride. Two: his legacy. 40 million: his responsibility. One and only: his best friend.
His wife handed him the youngest of their two boys. The four-year-old called to her, and she was off, chasing him around the slides, running in between the other families embracing the final throws of outdoor play.
The young one in his arms pointed out toward the water. “Want to go see? Let’s go,” the father said.
They walked along the trail which weaved around the park, past the playground. He thought about what his twenties had meant: starting a family, starting a career, moving from talking about life to doing it. There was so much thinking and praying and wondering in that decade, he didn’t know how he had carried the weight.
He shifted his son to his other arm, kissed him on the forehead. “It’s going to be a good decade,” he whispered. The breeze coming off the lake took them both by surprise, but it was only a second until the cold settled in and made him feel more alive.
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