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  • My nephew just left.

    He's not always the most reliable of kids, but he's got a big heart, a huge heart, and he's just a kid. At least, he was.

    Today is my nephew's 18th birthday. Today, he is a man in the eyes of the draft board, board of elections, and the law. He still has another year left of school, but in the fall, he plans to enlist. This time next summer, he might be gone.

    Over the years, we have spent a number of days together. We've never really had a plan outside of a vague text.

    "Hey, Lodi. Are you going to be home tomorrow? Is it OK if I come in?"

    And it is.

    Some 99 percent of the it's OK if he comes in; though, occasionally, I am gone.

    We never have a plan but our days have included parties, the zoo, concerts, and movies, long walks and long talks, photography and skateboarding (sometimes together), shopping (i.e. for ugly sweaters to wear to a holiday party that isn't actually slated as an ugly sweater party but we amused ourselves greatly), volunteering, cooking, and baking. I took him to sailing camp. I taught him to ride the metro on his own and bought him his first metro card.

    Over the past few years, I have taught him how to drive stick and make macaroni and cheese from scratch, and how to extend the life of his phone's battery. I have taught him that he needs to either accept a situation or change it. At some point, I need to teach him a little more about personal accountability, follow through, and making plans in advance, but I love him anyway.

    I didn't know that I would see him today. I actually had a lot of work plus an afternoon appointment. Last night, I slept so very little. This weekend got away from me before it even started, and this morning, the train between his house and mine derailed. Nevertheless, when he texted to ask if he could come in with a friend, my heart when pitter pat.

    He is my sous chef and concert buddy. He is more than my family; he is one of my best friends. In the fall, he plans to enlist. In the spring, he will graduate, and this time next summer, he might be gone - traveling, in boot camp, wherever life takes him.

    For now, I am happy to have spent another day with the man he's become, and I am tired. It's been a long, beautiful day.
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