Old Westbury

Sofia’s current Facebook profile picture, shot last summer

I remember the drive, the end of it anyway. The blacktop devolved into gravel chips and pebbles, which eventually disappeared into the mud and came back as blades of grass. There was weather threatening. Leaving the car, it smelled like storm. We went in together, the mansion first. Not much to see, never is in abandoned homes preserved this way, like sarcophagi. Just artful exteriors to impress the eons. The life of the place is left to the gardens. How many different roses? No shit.

I am not a great father, but I do enjoy the competition. You go your way, I go mine. We meet somewhere, almost by accident. We’re taking pictures of the place, the water, the landscape, the manufactured paths bordered by manicured jungle, the beasts in that jungle, each of us prowling the grounds. We separate again, two jaguars working the savannah, waiting for the wildebeests to pass out of range of our true prey, the perfect selfie.

I remember the drive back out. We were headed to Sands Point, a poor choice on my part visually, but a great hike for Nassau County. We sat on a bench and talked and watched people walk past. I remember the drive out to Northern Boulevard. I parked in the street because I didn’t know better. Sometimes life is better that way. We walked around and there was nothing to see but the sadness of the few trees left to save civilization. So we went inside Luger’s to the bar, where a crazy old man told us a really bad dirty joke. I don’t remember the joke. It was so bad I had a trauma blackout.

I don’t remember taking you home. It’s funny. I don’t remember any time we were together when I can recall taking you home, except for the first time I took you home. And the second, when we left your mother in the hospital. It was just you and me to start. I wasn’t a great father, but I did enjoy that time, not sleeping much, reading your instruction manuals and keeping your grandmother at bay. You don’t remember that. You were too small for a cellphone. Actually, you were the same size as cellphones back then, except we had the doctor remove your antenna in the delivery room. Anyway, no selfies from that time. No clouds back then to store our memories, good and bad. All we have left are the soft-focused mind pictures which I can only draw with words in response to some unknown cue.

I like your selfie. I helped make it possible, which makes me like it even more.

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