A new series of personal essays about job loss, mental health, and the undying pursuit of art.
When we drove out of the mountains that morning it was hot, the sun climbing higher in the sky, heating up the plants and the air around us and the metal of our car as it barreled down a neck of Lincoln Highway woven like thread through the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands. Ethan was in his car seat, chatting away, my wife Michelle and I both quizzing him about our weekend stay in the mountains ‚Äî often asking if we had seen a black bear while hiking two days earlier.¬† ‚ÄúYes we did!‚Äù he kept answering, a certain electricity in his words.
Our cabin that weekend was buried deep in Lin Run‚Äôs cool woods, beneath a canopy of tall old trees. Cell towers sparsely dotted the mountain, like hair on a balding scalp, and my phone had no service until we hit the main road, nearly 10 miles away. We were blissfully out of reach. For four days I didn‚Äôt check email ‚Äî either personal or work-related. And during that time I felt the muscles in my neck uncoil. The anxiety that normally hung in my chest like a lingering cold was absent.
Michelle and I had stayed up late each night after putting Ethan to sleep. We talked and drank beer under a clear black sky next to raging campfires built¬† from wood we collected on hikes during the day. We talked about everything. But our last night, we talked a lot about the future. With Ethan‚Äôs third birthday just a month and a half away, we talked about wanting a bigger family ‚Äì¬† and how Ethan would make such a great big brother.
(Illustration: James Blagden)