Q: Four years have passed since the trip. What remains of it today for you?
Three things. At an amusement park, Six Flags in St. Louis, [we did] a bungee jump. We were dropped 158 feet from a crane. Zach loves these rides. I was scared to death. We had this free fall, and we were clinging to each other and I felt giddy and alive and bonded with my son both physically and spiritually in a way that I never ever had before. It was magnificent.
There was another moment in, of all places, Odessa, Tex., where I wrote “Friday Night Lights” and where they’re still not really so crazy about me. There’s a barbecue that takes place and Zach is there with some people I know [including] Brian Chavez, who is the tight end that I write about in “Friday Night Lights.” And everyone pats [Zach] on the back. He’s at the center of the circle. He’s one of the boys and I just loved seeing that. I thought it was marvelous that it took place in Odessa because Odessans, whatever they are, are the salt of the earth and really weren’t treating him any differently and he just loved it. He just loved, you know, being part of the circle.
The third thing was bizarre because we went to Las Vegas which was frankly a disaster. And he turned to me at one point at dinner. I was asking him personal questions. And he turned to me and said, “Dad, I’m having trouble with these questions because I don’t know how to answer them.” And I was proud of him for saying in his own gentle way, “You know, Dad, you just have to back off a little. I’m not a lab specimen.”