There’s a book called, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” by Jamie Ford. I’ve never read the book but I’ve loved the title since I first heard it. So much of my life takes place at that corner.
I write this from a [diffferent] hotel room in Denver. Across the room, my oldest son plays with his early Christmas present, a brand new Go-Pro. We’re here for a college visit – and a little playtime. After our tour of campus, we’ll head into the mountains to ski for a couple days before heading home for Thanksgiving.
I watch him intently editing a time-lapse video he shot last night through the hotel window, and I can’t help but think life feels a whole lot like watching a time-lapse video.
His video contains over 800 photos shot over an hour time period which he’ll string together in quick-motion to appear as if it’s all happening within a minute or less.
If I were to make a time lapse video of our lives together, it would have to start with the photo of us in the hospital, a few hours after he was born. It’s the one where he’s in his little see-through bassinet, all wrapped up, papoose-style. His eyes enormous as he stares at me. I stare right back at him with both a sense of giddiness and anxiety as I realize I’ll be taking that thing home with me. A human. I will be taking another human being home. To care for. And love. And watch grow-up right before my very eyes.
The next photo is of him in all his chubbiness. Actually, let’s not lie. “Chubby” conjures up mental pictures of babies with a roll here or there, and maybe a double chin. This one, my oldest child, was just plain fat. So fat my sister-in-law was scared to hold him upright for fear the rolls of fat would impede his ability to breathe.
And then there are the thousands of shots with his younger brothers that came 20 months, then 48 months and then 65 months later. There are shots of cousins and friends. Of his toy guns and real guitars, and monumental events that would come together to tell his story until this moment of us in this hotel room. Next to a college campus. A college in Colorado.
Then there’s the photo only found in my mind’s eye. A photo with dark edges but a bright center, with so many details it appears fuzzy. It’s the picture of this child I love embarking on a life beyond the now.
Then the next shots filter through my head. These are the ones filled with places unknown to me, with people whose faces I don’t recognize, and stories I have not yet heard.
But for now, I watch the picture in front of me of a son who is about ready to embark on a life apart from his mom and dad. A life he will continue to record with snapshots of his story. The one that was, the one that is and the one that will be. While both of us continue to live in that place where we chew on the bitter and savor the sweet.