Per Aspera Ad Astra

Charlie in the courtyard of Saint Peter's College
At 1.30pm on Saturday, Jim filled two suitcases with copies of
his book and loaded them into the back of the black car. We drove to the train station to the sounds of Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five, which CD has become Charlie's new musical favorite over Coldplay, U2, and everyone else who was on his iPod. We waved Jim off and, two minutes after returning home, Charlie wanted to go out again. I hemmed and hawed and then suggested swimming, which Charlie said a hesitant "yes" to. We got back in the car and headed to my college in Jersey City. We'd just gone over the Pulaski Skyway and seen two newly dented cars (and a third car—a police car) at the base of the Broadway on/off ramp when my phone rang. 

It was Jim: The train had stopped after two stops and everyone had to get on a bus. It was warm and humid and, while I'm sure every passenger was "disgruntled," I suspect only Jim had two roller suitcases each containing 20 books and a laptop to drag around. The trip into New York had taken over two hours and, when he got there, there was traffic everywhere. I told Jim to forget about using the subway, get a cab, nothing mattered except being ready for speaking here, how fortunate he'd decided to catch an earlier train. And wished fervently that Charlie and I could be lugging one of those suitcases behind us, but much as we like to take Charlie everywhere we can and while I was dying to hear Jim talking at this particular venue, this was one of those events that might be more than too much for ye typical 12-year-old boy looking for a lazy Saturday. 

(Yes I know I can hear Jim talking all the time, but sometimes you just have to be there.)

Jim told me he was getting a taxi, Charlie and I made it the pool, where three swimmers were doing laps and four students (one of them must have been the lifeguard) sitting several feet from the edge. The tiles around the pool were wet and a huge circular fan was stationed by the entrance. Rap music boomed over the speakers but Charlie didn't put his hands over his ears. He smiled and slowly got into the pool, and I coaxed him to swim six laps (Charlie has not seemed as inclined to swim as he did when he was younger, though his love for the water is as strong as ever). Afterwards we early birded it at this diner and then drove around downtown Jersey City, which is right across from lower Manhattan. We got in one fast glimpse of the Hudson River before turning towards home (and passing a storefront that read, appropriately, Waterfront Liquors). Charlie and I shared another sunset walk after which he told me "bedtime" and instructed me to spread his little blue fleece blanket (which is no longer fleecy) on his bed.

I was heating up my leftovers from the diner when Jim called. He'd sold every book. Some 70 people were in the audience. Friends wanted to take him out to celebrate. 

A rocky start to rough (aspera) times and then a starry (astra) ending: If we can just endure the hard times, things can turn out better than we might ever have hoped; perhaps we'll even gain something more at some point by recalling them. I guess it is a bit of a cliché but in the face of adversity (an NJ Transit conductor's order to get off the train; a school situation gone messy beyond belief), you've gotta hope it'll all work out. 

Because I've got my two boys, I know it will.

heading east down Montgomery Street, Jersey City

5 Responses to “Per Aspera Ad Astra”
  1. karen d says:

    Your optimism is inspirational. Hooray for a great day and for Jim selling all those books. Just awesome. 🙂

  2. Monica says:

    Per aspera ad astra … you are ALL super stars! I feel so privileged to know you.
    (Selfishly), I’m glad I went to Jim’s Barnes & Noble appearance earlier this week, rather than the NYU one, because I probably wouldn’t have been granted much “face time” (the B&N one was much smaller). I enjoyed it so much!
    This is so exciting!!

  3. good news on Jim selling all his books. Good thing they got on a bus quickly into NY instead of being stranded on the train like airplanes do. I noticed the diner was on one of Nicks fav shows on food network.

  4. autismvox says:

    Thanks friends—-we are excited!
    And hopeful, ever.

  5. autismvox says:

    Thanks friends—-we are excited!
    And hopeful, ever.

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