Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Imaginative Displacement

"Have you seen a kid, he is wearing a blue golf shirt and a red hat?" I ask the locker room attendant. "No." giving me a shaky reply, "No one has been in here."  My son was supposed to have a golf lesson at three and we are already late. "You find the instructor and I will go back to the house to get your golf shoes.", was the last thing I said before leaving my son in the locker room after realizing the shoes were not in the locker. "Ok, and I will get my clubs." He replied back. While walking back to the house it starts to drizzle. I find the bag holding the white Addidas golf shoes, close the garage door and start my trek back, down the street (the rain has picked up now), up the side path, through the locked gate, pass the parking lot, enter the side entrance of the club complex, through the restaurant and push through the double doors of the men's locker room and now standing here in the quiet empty room, and no son. I check the pro shop, closed, I check outside by the putting green, I check the bathroom, card room and lounge, nothing. I double back into the locker room. "No, no one has been in here." replies the locker room attendant. Where did he go? I think back to the last time I missplaced my son.

Four years ago, soon after moving out of The City to Westchester, we decide to take our first walk along the river that runs through our town and extends north. There are a series of paved walking paths and woodsy areas which allows you to take many detours along the river. My son, being only seven, took his orange and silver bicycle and my wife and I walked. Adjacent to the river is a compact four lane parkway which at times, intersects with the path, using the local streets for entering and exiting the parkway. "Now when you get to a street, please wait for us to catch up, do not cross." We instruct our son, since he will no doubt ride ahead. The walk was relaxing and peaceful and very different from walking the avenues of Manhattan. Every time we reach a break in the path, our son is eagerly waiting for us to signal that he is clear to continue. After about a three quarters of an hour, we decide to turn around and head back.

When my wife and I reach the intersection, there is no sign of our son, and we figured he crossed with other people. Upon reaching the next intersection and again seeing no sign of a boy on a orange and silver bike, we begin to worry. How far could he had gone? There are a lot of twists and turns, small hills and valleys along the path so it is hard to see far down in the distance. We jog a little to reach the next intersection and still no boy. My wife proceeds to run ahead while I double back thinking maybe we passed him. As I run back, I check the edges of the path, maybe he fell off and slid down an embankment. After arriving at the last stop we saw him, I take out my phone and call the police. I give them my location and a description and they tell me to stay where I was and withing a few minutes a squad car zooms up and I get in. While driving around, I hear the radio broadcast the description and the policeman gives further details he takes from me while sitting in the back of the car. My phone rings and its my wife, she reached the start of the path and while asking people along the way if they noticed a boy on an orange and silver bike, nobody recalls a sighting. We are both in a panic. As we reach the edge of town, I hear the helicopter race overhead. We stop to pick up my wife and a voice comes over the radio but it is hard to make out what they are saying as the policeman turns quickly and races down the road. We stop next to another cruiser and as I look through the window, I see my son and his bike leaning against the wooden railing talking to two men in blue. We rush out of the car and run over, and give him a hug. We thank the police numerous times and we start to walk home. We question our son about where he went and reiterate sternly that he was supposed to wait for us. He explains that he looked both ways at each intersection and just continued on his way until he reached our building, then decided to go back to find us. Even though he knew what he was doing and we felt silly for worrying, I am glad that I called the police right away, its better to be a little embarrassed later, time is important when it comes to a misplaced child.

It is starting to rain steadily now as I retrace my steps all the way back to the house, thinking that the lesson is canceled and he decided to walk back. I arrive at the house and go though it yelling his name and getting no response. I decide to return to the club, this time taking the bicycle so I can cover more ground swiftly. I arrive back at the club, rest the bike on the side of the building and proceed to check every room, the two restaurants, the bar, the sitting areas, and all the bathrooms in the entire place, thinking to myself, "He is not following my instructions, he wandered off or took a different way back, whatever the case, he should have waited for me." I finish my sweep, and am out of ideas. I go back to the bike in a plan to cover the grounds where I glance over to the garage where they park the golf carts. I again rest the bike up against the wall and slowly walk into the garage area. I hear the faint sound of voices and continue to walk past the golf carts and enter a large room where the club inventories all the golf clubs. As I enter, I see a young guy in a club golf shirt with a name tag chatting and joking it up with my son. "I told you I was getting my clubs." my son jovially replies and I ask him where he was. I hilariously tell them both the tale of me running all over the place looking for him and that I have never been there before and both kids are looking at me like I have two heads. "Do you want to hang here is bit?" I ask. "Yes, but will need the key to get back through the gate." he informs me. I give him my set and quietly exit the room, feeling silly that I worked myself up and that I embarrassed my son. This incident taught me to listen more closely and trust myself to trust him, and I did not need the police this time to understand that.


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