I’m a third generation New Yorker, but I’ll be the last in my family to live here. My son has other plans.
“Lift me up so I can see the stars,” he said to me on Second Avenue at night, and I put him atop my shoulders like an Indian prince.
“It’s hard to see the stars here,” I told him. “Too many lights, too many tall buildings.”
He never took an interest in the Art Deco Chrysler Building or the majestic Brooklyn Bridge like I did at his age. He is intrigued by loftier heights — space, the final frontier.
“One day, I’ll take you to Montana,” I said. “I went there with Grandma and Grandpa when I was your age. When you look up, you won’t believe how many stars are in the sky.”
“But will you still lift me up so I can see the stars, even in Montana?”
“I’ll always lift you up to see the stars.”
“Even when you’re gone?” he asked. The maturity of his question surprised me, as if he already understood the concept of death.
And I had no answer for him. Luckily, he changed the subject at whim, as boys his age tend to do.”
“I don’t want to go to Montana,” he said. “I’d rather go to Mars.”
“Mars, well, well! Daddy can’t lift you up all the way to Mars. For that, you’ll need a super-duper rocket. And you’ll probably have to go on your own because Daddy doesn’t like heights.”
“OK, I’m not afraid,” he said about his future journey in a rocket ship, a trip that he would someday take without me supporting him on my shoulders.
“Will you miss me up in space?” I asked.
“Nah, we can still Skype,” he said.