Searching through the rain drops I look for my 13 year old son, Tai. He is at the local horse track running a cross country meet. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but yes, they are having a cross country meet on the track where horses run.
It is 5:15 pm and Tai’s race is scheduled for 5:30 pm. My youngest son, Zion and I stand off the track as our eyes move from one group of soaked kids to the next looking for the blue and white of the Springfield Blue Devils. An umbrella would be great right now but when we started our journey 30 minutes away, at home, it was sunny, and cool. Rain was not likely and when racing to get out of the house the need for an umbrella did not register.
As rain attacks us, I see the bright blue and white. I shift my search from the large track to a small cluster of kids in the middle of the infield. One by one I scan the kids as if the face recognition software in my head is looking for a specific type. My brain discards kids that are obviously not Tai quickly. Long hair, not Tai. Female, not Tai. White, not Tai.
My mind slows down when I recognize features of Tai but on another kid. The boy’s complexion is a light mocha, like Tai’s. His head is shaved like Tai’s. His shoulder’s are broader than Tai’s. He stands taller than Tai. My mind reads “negative” and my eyes move to the next child. Then I see the close match I just scanned walk. His walk is like Tai’s. He has the soft purposely gait that Tai has. My mind has to scan this child again and I realize he is my son.
The summer went by at hyper speed and with it came growth and maturity. Something I did not realize living with Tai everyday. In a group of kids he looks older.
We meet Tai inside, near the betting cages, and as I get closer I notice muscles in his chest and arms that weren’t there yesterday. He tells me his race was moved to 5:00instead of 5:30 and we just missed it. His voice is deep, more mature.
Saddened that we missed him run, after a brief conversation, we let Tai get back to his team. Zion and I turn around to go back home. I don’t know what upsets me more, missing Tai’s race or realizing the Tai I came there to find is gone.