Carnes: Riding the window seat to the future (column) |

Carnes: Riding the window seat to the future (column)

“I have to be careful because if you bump me I might fall over …” was the very first thing she said.

Tempting, but the thought had never even crossed my mind.

Not a polite “hello” or anything superficial along those lines, just an apparent statement of fact. In less than 30 seconds, the stranger continued, with zero prompting on our part.

“After 36 years of teaching and then retiring, I was minding my own business driving home from the grocery store last year when this careless man was busy texting on his phone like a damn teenager instead of watching the road like he should have been and slammed into me, causing permanent damage to my C5 and this pain that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life and —”

“Really?” replied my sweet wife, in a very sincere-sounding tone of voice without a hint of sarcasm.

“Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact,” I muttered to myself.

“Yes, and then my daughter had to go through …” and continued for the next 20 minutes solid without so much as a break to, oh, I don’t know, perhaps breathe or provide her sacrificial “B” seat neighbor an opportunity to slam an elbow into the side of the lucky stiff in seat “A” that couldn’t wipe the annoying smirk off his face.

I love the window seat.

And thus began our trip up to the Pacific Northwest to visit son No. 3 in Tacoma, Washington, for University of Puget Sound’s Parents Weekend.

My patient wife had every right to give me grief for the remainder of the trip, and rest assured she exercised the right nonstop.

Anyway, spending a few days with our youngest after being apart for almost two months for the first time in all of our lives was, well, let’s just say it was mentally sensitive, to be polite to all involved.

A new life, with new friends, living in a new place, every single day providing a new experience that Happy Valley could never provide, was emotionally trying for his mother and I, as we’d never seen our last-born so happy, so mature, so adult-like, in such a beautiful setting, no less.

Don’t get me wrong, though, as Happy Valley has been the ideal place to raise all three boys for the past three decades, but as with all vacation resorts as home, there are limitations, and exploring other realities on the cusp of adulthood can only help in forming a well-rounded individual.

The boy is rounding well.

While there, I was supposed to fulfill my role as the Colorado Carnes patriarch, complete with college-level jokes for the guys, sage advice for the girls and wisdom-filled guidance for our son, yet found myself fighting happy tears of emotion most of the time.

Yes, I was a typical softy dad, wanting to appear tough and stable but failing miserably, and thanks to dark sunglasses and well-timed pretend sneeze attacks was able to look consistently happy on the outside.

So while many were focused on whether the Las Vegas shooter was a Trump fan or Trump hater, his mom and I were busy concentrating on the best way to support our son, along with our shrinking home life, without appearing too selfish.

He gets it, though, and I’m sure most of you do, as well, and we left knowing our last to leave the nest is going to be just fine.

And yes, Mom beat me to the window seat for the flight home, just in case.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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