Every year on my birthday, the card from my father would sum up the number of miles I’d traveled around the sun thus far in my lifetime. Based upon this calculator, as of late this afternoon I have traveled approximately 30,371,045,248.8 miles in my now-52 years.
Except that as noted elsewhere this doesn’t even take into account the distance as I rotate around Earth’s axis, let alone the distance as the planet rotates around the center of the Milky Way, not to mention the distance as the galaxy hurtles through the Universe.
Notwithstanding that as I get older and grapple with cognitive and other declines all of these miles strike me as increasingly exhausting, I do think about this on the natural, annual basis come late October.
The fact that I think about my late father every year on my birthday might be why I was caught unawares while casually listening to “Carry You Home” off the album Pulse by Jed Whedon & the Willing.
The peace that I’ve found my one real virtue
But give me a call if someone hurts you
I’ll be kicking down the doors
I will break their fucking bones
Wrap you in my arms and I’ll carry you home
The song swings from sweet and wistful melody to something more suited, well, to wall-busting and door-kicking—an obvious parental anthem—and what happened to me was this: primed by birthday thoughts of my father’s old solar-travel-time cards, I had a flash of a story he used to tell about my birth.
As it goes, my father, who was in the Army in West Germany in the 1950s and like everyone else watched the Korean and Vietnam Wars unfold and unravel, on the day I was born—at the selfsame St. Peter’s Hospital in which, thirty-nine years later, he would die—swore that “they” would never have me.
What I’m saying here is that I blame Jed Whedon entirely for the fact that there I was, silently bawling in the Grocery Outlet frozen foods aisle while looking for the hashbrown patties.