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  • Andrew Casteel

Right Before The Rain

Updated: May 11


It's easy to focus on what the current situation has taken from us. I wanted to take the time to recognize what it has made possible. First and foremost, Bug figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels!


That's exciting for any family, but when your dad used to run the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, it's a right of passage. There are few things that I dream about doing with Bug:

1. Bike Touring from San Francisco to Los Angeles - I've always pictured this happening between his junior and senior years of college, when we're rebuilding our father son bond after he pushed away during his teenage years to prove he was nothing like me but before his early post-college years when he finally accepts the inescapable truth that he's slowly turning into me (happened with me and my parents). We'd stop for burgers and beers along highway 1. He'd make fun of me for nitpicking the beer selection (it's all Faux Corporate Craft that's old and oxidized). I'd tell him that years of swilling white claw in college have destroyed his palate. Then we'd both laugh and sunscreen up for the next 40 miles.


2. Playing in a Magic the Gathering Grand Prix together - I'd take him out of school early, which would endear me to him forever and we'd drive up to Reno, listening to Ethan and Ben debate the relative strengths of Boros Cycling versus Sultai Mutate in the current Metagame. We'd both question their decision that 12 lands is enough even in a cycling deck. We'd check in a day early and get in some games of Commander, where we'd run our grift where he pretends to be new to the game and I ask folks to go easy on him. Then he goes off with his monowhite Sram Storm deck, with cover from my Dimir control deck (which is all interaction and no win-con), and wipes out the table one by one with Aetherflux Reservoir. Then we'd exchange our tickets for some draft packs and practice drafting at the awesome deli in the hotel until the waitresses tell us that they're closing and we pack up and continue our game in the hotel room. The next day I'd bust out early with a bad sealed pool but he'd make it to day 2 only to get knocked out of the competition by the Luis Scott Vargas, who'd console him with some Tony-Robbins-esque platitudes.


3. Dive for Abalone outside of Fort Brag - By the time Bug is old enough to get his dive certification and join me for free dive training, the Abalone will have rebounded and the season reopened for the first time in 10 years. Having heard non-stop stories of the shellfish that was so tasty that folks would risk life and limb diving into the frigid waters of the Pacific to get it, Bug would wake me up at 6am in the campsite to make sure we didn't miss low tide. We'd gear up and walk out across the dunes and into the water and kick out to the tall kelp. I'd show him how to pull himself down the kelp to get to the rocks below. After a few short unsuccessful attempts I'd remind him to count up the seconds in each dive to calm his nerves so he can stay down long enough to find an abalone. Then he'd finally surface with his first abalone and we'd quickly get our max after that. We'd head back to the campsite, fire up the pressure cooker and crack a beer while both trying our best to scare Lexi with death-defying tales about our harrowing adventure.


There's no guarantee that Bug will want to do any of these things, but a dad can dream. And a dad can plan. I actually dislike dreams. Dreams lack agency. I prefer plans. When there is something that I want to share with Bug that he's not yet ready for, I pull from my teaching experience and start scaffolding.


Biking to LA is way too far, but for now, I can eagerly cheer him on as he rides his bike and take him on frequent bike rides to the beach. Magic is far too complex a game for a 4 year old, but we can play other games together and we can play knights and dragons to get him into the storyline. Diving is years off, but I can encourage his love of the water with frequent trips to the beach and expand his palate with new flavors (he loves dumplings).


Even with all this effort to lay the groundwork, I don't get too attached to these dreams. Bug will be his own person. While there are things that I'd like to share with him, I am most excited to see him excited about something. Right now that's unicorns and cats. While that's not a tier one dad dream, it's still something I can get down with.

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