Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's a mustache. Despite how faint it is, it's definitely a mustache.

"I need a razor," he tells me. "I need to shave."

All our razors are dull. I know this because the last time I used one, I made a mental note to write "razors" on our shopping list. But I didn't do it. And now he needs a razor.

He's 16, and he needs a razor. He won't use his father's electric shaver because "I need to know how to do this." It's another rite of passage.

Our office is getting ready to move to a building after 30 years or more of being in our "temporary" space. I've only been here for fifteen years, but I've accumulated a lot of stuff. I've been weeding through my desk drawers and making piles of things to keep and things to throw away: Superman drawings, school pictures, notes from friends, birthday cards. The cards and notes go in the recycling bin. The drawings and school pictures I can't part with. They contain clues to his evolution. I search each of them to try and pinpoint the moment he moved from child to man. I find nothing but the slice of bittersweet memories.

He's taller than I am and at times so distant I barely recognize him. Some days, he's as cold and callous as any typical teen. But some nights he's as sweet as the toddler he used to be. Instead of kisses, he'll rub my sore neck. Instead of drawings, he'll wash up the dishes and put away a basket of clothes. He doesn't like to pose for the camera like he used to, but he'll freely share an anecdote from school. He'll ask a question and wait for an answer.

"Do you really think the world is going to end in 2012? 'Cause that would really suck. 'Cause I'm supposed to graduate from high school."

He's 16 and he needs a razor. Then in two years he'll be gone. It cuts.