President’s day is a holiday for me, but instead of being at home alone like I usually am, Carl was with me because school was canceled due to a winter storm. Of course nothing energizes teens, and adults too for that matter, like an unplanned day off from school or work, so both of us were up quite early in order to get as much as possible out of our free day. We both started making plans to get in a workout somehow, although we both understood the weather would present some major challenges to overcome in the process.
Carl wanted to walk the 3 blocks to the YMCA, where he works out, but when I called to see if they were open during this storm, the person who answered said they were open at the moment, but would likely be closing in the next 15 minutes. I was considering driving to the UND Wellness Center, where I work out, because the roads in our neighborhood didn’t look nearly bad enough to stop my 4 wheel drive truck. Upon calling there, the person who answered said “yes, they were open” and better yet, they had no plans to close. On a whim, I asked what their policy was for bringing in visitors, and they said Carl could accompany me for the low cost of $5.00. Carl was ecstatic about a chance to see the inside of the Wellness Center, where his Dad spends countless hours running in circles around the track, so we bundled up and headed out.
We arrived easily enough and parked in the snow filled parking lot with a few other scattered cars. As we were walking towards the only entrance, the wind deafening in our ears, I screamed through the fury “welcome to UND!” Carl had to fill out a form and sign a waiver, and then we climbed the grand, 10 foot wide, carved stone, curved staircase to the second floor cardio deck. We put our wraps into day lockers and then walked around on the track, checking out all the facility had to offer. I then showed Carl around the downstairs weight area before turning him loose to get started on his upper body workout.
I went back up to the track, did my stretches, put on my i-pod, and then started around the eighth mile track which I planned on circling 48 times to get in 6 miles! When I ran through the area overlooking the massive weight room I saw Carl a few times lifting weights. During other times, our eyes met and we gave each other a little grin and a nod of acknowledgement.
Unfortunately, the Wellness Center decided to close at 10:30 due to the storm, so Carl didn’t get in his entire workout, and I only got around the track 29 times for a total of 3.63 miles. We got back into our coats and sweat pants, still warm from our abruptly ended workouts, and headed out into the North Dakota blizzard for the short drive home.
The time at the Wellness Center was short, and we didn’t spend much of it directly together, but it was a shared experience nonetheless, something that has been occurring more frequently in recent months. It was another chance for me to spend time with Carl, and once again I found myself enjoying it in ways I hadn’t expected. I again sensed my role as father is changing ever so slightly, and our interactions are becoming a little more man to man. A part of me is sad over losing my little boy, but a larger part is celebrating the emergence of fine young man into this world: One I am proud to call my son!