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  • RPA


All I could think about were the snakes, as I sat in the passenger seat on the way to our hike. I turned around and told my son, “We’re going to a hidden overlook, ok? The hard way. From the bottom up.” My wife rolled her eyes. The light turned green, and I peered out of the window. To my right, I saw a police officer with a shaved head slowly walking across a crosswalk, stopping traffic so an elderly homeless man could safely pass. The man was trying to put on a sweater. His hands trembled as he put one arm inside of a sleeve as the cop waited for him in the middle of the street. If I, or any commuting, wore lenses of rose-tinted glass they were now shattered or cracked after witnessing that.

My wife honked at the truck that wouldn’t let her over, every muscle in her forearms stiff as she gritted her teeth. I was still conflicted. Should I even take my boy up this trail? I wished I had snake guards.

“I wish they made snake proof socks or something,” I blabbered.

“I’m not wearing that,” my wife said.

We laughed. I’ve always been the worry wart. Vanessa? Nails.

“I know you wouldn’t wear snake guards, either.”

“Nope,” she said with a pop on the ‘p.’

“But I guess I wouldn’t want to dress like a hind catcher to the greenbelt, either.”

We parked and prayed, and hiked the first part fast. Stopped at my old pullup station and reminisced. I rubbed my chin as I noticed my sugar-frosted goatee and silver streaks on the phone screen, my hair changing colors over the years like the foliage all around me. We hiked down the rocky path so we could begin the climb up to the 360 overlook. The hard way. My son was supposed to trade the lead but stayed up front, and I couldn’t keep up, an inevitable metaphor not lost on me. Agarita bushes, or ‘picas,’ as my son has called them and their ‘stings,’ since he was a baby, scratched and pricked me.

I was glad he was first, though. When he stepped through the opening in the trees and onto the cliff rock, all I could hear was, “Whoaaaaaaaa!”

But the chopping propellers of a helicopter-dad were not far behind. Rapid-fire ‘be-careful-don’t-fall’ alarms went off like a strobe light. But, alas, all of my warnings just bounce off of him now.

When we got into the car, I told him, “You do know I’m showing you all of these secret overlooks to help you out, right?”

“What? Why?”

“Because, son. Pretty soon you’ll need ideas for the perfect date, a beautiful Austin girl by your side.”


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