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  • RPA

The Rising

for my son

I spotted the cop first. Parked sideways, face lit up by a laptop, he must have been on stand-by after an incident and just finished his report. Probably a break-in. Which wouldn’t surprise me. Drive by Mt. Bonnell at night and the parking lot sparkles under street lamp lights like puddles of glitter.  

Our transmission tightened up as we continued on Mt. Bonnell Rd. to get to Austin’s favorite overlook. It was dark and it was late—too late for my son to be out on a school night, I know. He had two finals the next day: Guitar and Football. The Final assignment from the coach: wash your stinky gym clothes.

We parked on the end by the gate and I watched a nearby car with five people inside closely. I waited for them to get out. All so I could listen…to the way they laughed. I couldn’t see their faces, but their laughs and banter among themselves would tell me if they were cool. And they were. Cooler than us. Mt. Bonnell, like I’ve said before, is for them, just like it was for me when I was college-aged. I love this place so much. Especially in the morning and, of course, late at night when the city sparkles and the air is still.   


I even think it's better when it’s cold. After we prayed, we pushed our fists deep into our pockets to keep warm. My son, I realized, was in shorts, wearing a beanie and hoodie. Just like a Texan–never prepared for the cold–he was in shorts. 

We started our walk to the powdery, white rocks which almost glowed in the moonlight. I told them to wait: I had to do my squats—and once I am finished, I’m able to move like a frisky Jack Black—I hope my pants looked expensive.

We were set.  

The cedar trees were violet and blue like a bruise, puffing out like dark clouds on the edges of the trail. Up ahead, the city’s lights robbed some of the luster from our little torches of lights up in the sky. But that was ok. We’re standing above the Balcones Fault zone, where tectonic plates eons ago collided and pushed Mt. Bonnell up from the Earth like the rising of some tidal wave of rock. Then the trees came. Then the singing sparrows looking over the river below.

I could smell kaya coming from the trail up ahead. A trail I wanted to explore. I was worried that I’d disturb the gal or fellow who may be peacefully reclined, smoking herb at night sitting on the edge of the cliff. I didn’t want to interrupt, but…I gotta hike. I went right on in. No one was there. I stood there, right on an outcropping above the cliff face. Remarkably, I'd never been to that spot before. I called my family down and we enjoyed excellent views of the red and white radio towers endlessly blinking their red lights over the lake. They called it Lake MacDonald in the 1800s.

I was looking back-and-forth at my phone and the view so much I got a little dizzy. I put my handheld addiction down and coughed up some phlegm and spit it out. We headed back to the dusty main trail. I wanted to take them to the picnic table at the end for another view. On the way up to the top we noticed the silhouette of someone standing on top of the arbor looking over Lake Austin and the escarpment. How did he get up there?

We walked past the overlook, all the way to the south end, and climbed on top of a picnic table to watch the beautiful lights downtown. We all pointed out landmarks. A couple walked by, one who was smoking a cigarette like a Southern socialite, barely keeping himself from falling over. He blew rings in the air with drunken panache and I watched the rings float all about in front of me. The girl he was with expertly acted like we weren’t there and folded her arms together to keep warm. They walked down further and we could hear the quiet one suddenly learn to talk… and talk and talk.  

We headed back to the arbor and all the high school boys that were there walked by us to go where we were. My son started to inspect the beams. He had a climb on his mind. We sauntered around and hung out, and I began fielding endless questions from my son on how he could get up there just like the silhouetted young man we saw earlier.   

“I don’t know, son. I don’t think you can do it,” I said (wink).

My son began to move with purpose. “Oh, you don’t? That’s all I need to hear.”

The patience I demonstrated for 13 years, since he was 2 years old, to teach him how to climb–and fall—was all used up. “You're on your own, dude,” I said. “Don’t screw up.”

Like a gymnast that slowly stands erect after a hard landing to pose for the judges, my son carefully squatted up, lifting his hands in the cold air, the stars behind, the hills below, a young prince rising on a cold and dark night to take one more crown of his own. 

תגובה אחת

That sounds like a great evening, even if it was a school night. Shorts and a hoodie on a cold night? Sounds Texan to me 🤓

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