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dave warms up to waiting – month one

February 12, 2010

My first submission for The Art of Waiting project was completed on the last possible day, January 31. Perhaps the delay is fitting.

January’s image is all about growing up and growing old. It is iconic to me. It represents so much of what I thought I may never become, and now, somehow, am becoming. The image itself is simple. If it turns out the 4×6 print will reveal, from across the street and behind our car, my wife and two children emerging from our house into brisk morning air. So why is that image is so important to me, and what does it have to do with waiting?

my car waits for me in winter, from my first toy camera test roll

my car waits for me in winter, from from my first toy camera test roll

The shot (not the one pictured here) is taken from behind our car because I’d been starting it and sweeping the snow from the windows. I’d been outside for a good five or ten minutes, working while waiting, preparing the chariot for my family’s weekly journey to church. In frozen Edmonton winters our cars need a little time to warm up to the idea of subzero temperatures, and layers of frost need to be scraped off with all the elbow grease we can muster. Some mornings a mere credit card will offer enough edge to do the trick. Other mornings it’s the big stick with the tapered tail-fin on one end and the brush on the other. This was a tail-fin morning.

As I walked outside to perform this ritual, it became a rite of passage. I became, in that moment, somehow more of a man and less of a boy.

I remember watching my dad, and my wife’s dad, and countless other dads performing this service for those they love. It always seemed so noble, as did starting the car in a cold parking lot and driving it up to the door to receive the waiting into warmth. Yet, for all of it’s glory and glamour, I never wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be the one waiting inside. My own discomfort selfishly held me back from giving, rather than receiving, this service. I admired these men. But I was not one of them. And I never thought I would be.

And then it happened. It just happened. Somehow, over the past year in the shuffle of everything in my family’s life, amid our great role reversal here on the homefront, a switch has flipped. I suppose the actual moment of progress is often imperceptible as this. I suppose we strive and strive and try and try and wait and wait for it, until one moment we simple find the will to do the thing. The switch has flipped, and we have matured. At least, that’s how it is for me. Perhaps these are gifts of grace given every few miles to keep me running.

I’m getting older in other ways, too. This summer I’ll be 30. For many, that still seems so young, and I know in reality it is. I have so many years ahead. But for me, it’s a milestone. I’ll start checking new boxes on surveys and become, undeniably now, an adult. And it’s showing on the outside, too. This past year I bought a nose hair trimmer. And I need it. Just last week I plucked AWOL hairs from my wiry wild old-man eyebrows at the faithful prompting of my wife. Downing coffee in a café sends me to the bathroom more than once an hour. I find puns increasingly funny. “You’re hungry? I thought your name was Jack”. I feel less confident behind the wheel of a car in the big city. I’ve started a nice collection of regrets. I wear a winter hat all the time these days. My wife had to ask me why I still had my hat on the other day, when it was so hot inside the car. I had no retort. I wear a big winter coat and big winter boots and I pick up dog poop in a bag and I just don’t care. I care less and less what others think of me. I think less and less of today’s youth. And their music. I can’t abide rap. There was a day where I worshiped Kris Kross and wore my pants backwards to school, for crying out loud. Now I listen to talk radio, folk and poets thinly disguised as singer-songwriters. I do have reserve some good old fashioned rock and roll and a couple of hip hop tunes, just to remind me that 30 is not so old after all.

Of course I know that I have plenty of aging, and plenty of maturing, ahead of me. But it’s nice to know that ultimately I am moving forward.

It is nice to know that along this journey, images will continue forming before my eyes, just as my family emerged on January 31, waiting for the warm vehicle I’d prepared for them. And as I stop and view these images I will realize I’ve taken one more step.

One switch flipped to mature.

Dave Von Bieker

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