The prodigal son returns. And he is hairy.

by Lorin Michel Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:37 PM

Justin and his beard returned from New York late last night. We picked him up at LAX around 9:30. He was supposed to land at 9:37; United brought him in early. Probably because they knew we were missing him and were waiting patiently. The flight landed and Justin sent a text: “just landed in CA!” We were already circling the airport, which was a disaster even at that hour, especially on the lower level where the arrivals come in. Usually we pick up passengers on the upper level because they haven’t checked bags. Justin was gone for three months; he had bags.

He came walking up to us in jeans and a sweater. It was nearly 100 degrees. He looked like a mountain man, with his hair slightly curly because it’s longer than usual. And a full beard. When he left, it was more scruff. But it’s come in thick and reddish brown. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, which we found out today is because he lost them, and he looked adorable. Handsome. Wonderful.

After a summer in New York, sequestered on Long Island at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, the prodigal son had returned for two whole days.

Justin and Bethany in New York

Today we spent talking and discussing his future, including his new girlfriend, Bethany, who he seems quite serious about. We’ve talked to her on the phone and she seems lovely. Nice, funny, warm and OK with the fact that Justin’s parents are wild and crazy, that we laugh and joke, and drink wine and simply enjoy life. Even better, he seems to be OK with all of those things, to the point where he actually wants to bring her home to meet us at Thanksgiving.

Once upon a time, we embarrassed him. I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why, other than the fact that we’re parents and we laugh and joke, drink wine and simply enjoy life. I suppose when you’re a teenager, parent embarrass. I’m sure I was embarrassed by mine. Probably because I matured; I grew up.

Justin has grown up, too. Along with his facial hair, he also has a small gray patch on the back of his head, and may actually have the beginnings of hair loss at the crown. But that’s not what makes him older; what makes him older is his attitude. He has plans beyond tomorrow. He has dreams and goals. He understands the concept of future.

Tonight, he went with us wine tasting and shook people’s hands. We got take out and came home, poured a glass of wine and all sat at the table on the patio, beneath the electric lights that line the patio cover, listening to Soundscapes on digital music. We talked about his future, what he wants to do, where he wants to be in life.

Kevin and Justin, when Justin was 8 ... and bleached blonde

I think we’ve done a good job. He seems to finally understand the difference between need and want; he knows what he wants to do. He’s worried about what comes after college. When I asked him what that meant he explained: “When I graduate, I want to know that I have a place to go, a place to work. I don’t care if it’s as master electrician at Gateway but I want to have something secured. I don’t want to be fishing and floundering because it will get me through; I don’t want to be just at a summer stock. I want to be launched.”

We asked him if he wanted to spend time with any of his friends from the OP. He shook his head. He really just wanted to spend time with us, to talk, to enjoy his time at home. It seemed important to him, more this time than at any time before.

Our little boy has grown up. He’s a man, complete with a grown up appreciation and attitude, complete with beard.

When did that happen?

Justin and mom (and Simba), at Disneyland. He was 4.

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live out loud

Comments (2) -

8/19/2011 10:30:48 AM #

Our baby is all grown up! Can't wait for my hugs!

Bobbi Jankovich United States

8/19/2011 4:56:49 PM #

What a handsome dude this grandson is. Thanks for sharing the pics and the post.

g-ma-j United States

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