A New Mexico sunset

The orange glow to the west was hard to miss, even for a tapped-out slacker like me. I’d spent a languorous afternoon — 3 1/2 hours to be exact — loitering around a local community center. Actually, it wasn’t loitering. I had donned the mantle of dutiful dad Monday afternoon, taking off a few hours from work to ensure my son’s spot on his school’s sixth-grade youth basketball team.

I wasn’t alone. Dozens of other equally dedicated parents had showed up too, the same goal sketched on their determined faces. Not the greatest way to spend an afternoon I’ll admit, but it was much better than many other scenarios I can dream up.

This scrum of young to middle-aged parents idled away the afternoon, most of them seated in those collapsible chairs you see at weekend suburban soccer games. There we sat plying one another with tales of our children’s lives: how they liked this year’s crop of teachers; what subject engaged them the most; how fast they were growing up; were they noticing the opposite sex yet? Thankfully no was the answer in most cases.

But by the time the local parks and rec department opened the doors, I was past ready to depart the premises, no matter how engaging my fellow conversationalists had been. (Truth be known they were very engaging. We talked about everything from state politics to where to find good Korean food in Albuquerque.) I handed over the necessary forms and payment in the form of a check, and bolted, ready to grab a quick dinner and then head home.

I stopped by a local Mexican restaurant, where I wolfed down a big, fat beef burrito and a shredded-beef taco doused in red chile. It was about 6:45 when I hopped back into the car, happily fed and slightly drowsy for the drive home. About three miles into the otherwise uneventful drive I noticed an orange glow out of the corner of my left eye. The late-afternoon incandescence only grew more brilliant as the miles rolled on my odometer, creeping steadily from the horizon to spread across a quarter of the sky. It was one of those magnificent New Mexico sunsets you hear about, but don’t see all that often. I hastily took some photos of the sunset to share on Facebook, and with relatives across the country.

I got back home, and took one more photo because I couldn’t help myself.

Then I sat down to write a small narrative to accompany the pictures for this blog. It was then that I began thinking back on the afternoon and how I had spent it: I had sat in the company of other parents who, like me, were proud of their children and who didn’t mind sacrificing an afternoon to give their kids a small opportunity. I also thought about how I had not spent the afternoon: not staring at a computer screen; or talking with public officials about the state budget; or hearing the latest political gossip.

It had been a good day.

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