Went out to Queens twice this past weekend. The first time was with the boy and the Gymgirl when we stopped by a Chinese joint in Flushing.
Waitress: Does he speak Chinese? Me: About as well as I do.
Then, on Sunday, my buddy Pac took the Gymgirl, my cousin, her fella, and me out to Korean restaurant out in Queens. (Eating’s a big thing for my friends and me.)
Her: There’s a great place in Murray Hill, Mapo. Me: That’s one block from my childhood home!
The Gymgirl and I got there a little early so I walked her to my home and showed her my old digs.
Me: Alison was the last person I brought here over a decade ago. Her: I’m sorry.
I looked where we were heading and saw the train tracks from my youth and crossed the street. Was gonna mention why to the Gymgirl but decided that was too dark for the day. Not that we didn’t veer dark.
Me: I can show you pretty much every place I got beat up. Cousin: You remember that?! Cousin’s fella: We never forget getting beat up.
Her: I’ll watch that. Me: What? Her: That film you just mentioned, “Hans Solo?” Me: HAN! It’s HAN Solo. He’s not Swedish. Her: Han? Well, that’s a dumb name.
It was an oddly busy weekend. The Gymgirl and I stayed in and watched a film on Friday and my buddies Bryson and Steele were both supposed to come by early Saturday morning but Bryson was stuck in DC.
Him: It’s the grand opening of our DC restaurant and we’re running into issues so I’m gonna be stuck here. Me: These are the types of things one can’t make up.
So Steele, his wife, and his kid came by and met the Gymgirl and also got to know my kid now that he’s talking.
Steele: (laughing) And you were worried he’d never speak. Me: Well, that’s long gone now. Him: I brought a greek lasagne with a bechamel sauce. Me: You had me at lasagne.
Afterward, the Gymgirl and I went to the gym for a few hours. While we were out, I had a roast going in the sous vide machine that Steele gave me a while ago, which was a lucky thing because my cousin and my comfortable pants buddy came by after dinner.
Him: Your girlfriend invited me to your home for dinner. Be prepared. Me: I’ll put a stop to that. Serving at 5:30PM. Don’t bring more carbs.
We ended up playing Pictionary and the Gymgirl and I were doing ok when the Gymgirl started drawing that picture you see above…
Me: (five seconds in) Mae West? Her: How did you get Mae West!? How did you possibly get that?! Him: He only knows that because she was probably popular when he was kid.
Then the very next day, went with the boy and the Gymgirl to my friend’s Bagman’s house in Westchester this past weekend where we were served a ton of amazing food.
And there was also some stupid human tricks, which really made the trip.
All-in-all it was a great weekend with family and friends.
Wouldn’t mind a few more of those if I could get them.
Me: I ate too much. Do you have any fat pants for me to wear? Him: Logan! You don’t go to someone’s house and ask to wear their clothes! His girlfriend: Ignore him. I’ll get you a pair. Me: (5 minutes later) God, I’m so comfortable right now.
Went to watch the fights over at a buddy’s place the other day. Think that the past three years, the people I’ve spent the most time with are from my gym.
Initially, it was because they were the only people I saw since I only ever was at my pad, the hospital, or the gym. Unless one of my buddies showed up at one of those places, didn’t see them, even if they were just around the way.
Now, it’s just because they’re part of the landscape of my life these days.
In some sense, I’m a tabula rasa to them. A guy mentioned off-handily, Who knew you were a womanizer? which made me laugh.
Me: Don’t get it twisted, I wasn’t very good. Him: Is that true? Me: No. (shaking head) I was excellent.
So much of who I once was is gone. Don’t think of that as a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a thing, I suppose.
I suspect that to most of the guys at my gym that I’m just this old widower with a kid that hangs out with the Gymgirl, eats everything in sight, and washes his hands like a madman.
You know, I’ve got two closets with about 15 suits, an untold number of shirts and ties that I never wear but I wear the same five or six athletic clothes over-and-over again. Literally never wear anything from my old life.
Which makes sense, I suppose, since I never wear that life anymore either.
I am wearing some incredibly comfortable borrowed pants in this pic below, though. That’s a borrowed dog too.
A dear friend called me recently.
Her: Are you ever free for lunch? There’s some business we could do. Me: I dunnno, I’m pretty busy with the kid. Her: XXX is involved. You know how much money he’s made in the past for our guys. There’s a lotta money to be made, Logan. One lunch. Me: I’d love to see you. But I’m not that guy any more.
This book called Captains Courageous had a character named Penn. Penn was once this fella named Jacob Boller that watched his entire family die before his eyes and his mind snapped. He stopped being Jacob Boller and became Penn, a completely different person – although, every once in a while, Jacob would come out.
Don’t think I’m anywhere near that degree but right now, I’m so different from the person I used to be.
I’ve gone from being this ruthless capitalist husband to being a 1950s house-wife.
And that’s fine with me. So little matters to me anymore. Pretty much just the kid and the Gymgirl.
Me: (dropping plate of food) Son: (running in) Are you ok? Me: Yes. (thinking) You know, your momma used to ask why I was always dropping things. Him: Momma? She’s in Queens. Me: (shocked, slowly shaking head) No, boy. No she’s not in Queens. She’s…away. But she misses you, that I know. (smiling) Cm’on, I’ll make you another sandwich. Him: Peanut butter! Me: But, of course!
The kid started going to a five-day-a-week school recently.
When I arrived to pick him up, the teacher wanted to talk to me.
It seems they took his thermos out of his lunchbox, and – for some inexplicable reason – thought it was some other kid’s thermos and wrote that kid’s name on it.
It was annoying but an honest mistake and they felt terrible about it.
I was gonna buy him a new one when I remembered that when Alison moved in here, she bought a multipack of these things called Magic Erasers (that’s what the cap’s sitting on in the pic above) and scrubbed both bathrooms methodically until they sparkled.
She was so proud. She said that Magic Erasers were her favourite cleaning product ever.
I spent a solid 20 minutes going through the entire utility closet and found a single Magic Eraser tucked into the corner and used that to clean his thermos – you can’t even see it.
That made me happier than you might imagine because I know that if she were here, and this happened, she would have done exactly that.
The boy “graduated” from his school earlier this week. Two, actually. One was an art class, the other a music class. But really, they were a way to socialize him with kids his age. That was the goal, anywho. Along the way, I met these women that became the Mother’s Group that I talk to almost every day. In that sense, it socialized us both.
Friend: This is it, a first graduation! Me: Whoa – well, let’s hope it’s the first of many.
Gymgirl: (watching TV) I’m pretty impressed that you figured that part out. Me: (dismissively) Of course, I’m ridonk brilliant. Her: Eh, you’re alright.
Speaking of graduating, not only did the Gymgirl graduate as well, she also started a new job recently so, after she got her first paycheck, she took me out to eat Korean BBQ in Korea Town at place called Jongro. A boy could get spoiled like this.
Went to that place years ago with my college buddies.
Leigh’s husband wrote me to tell me that he thought The Gymgirl sounded like an amazing person. It’s a lot for someone to deal with people like us that are saddled with such grief. I agree.
Although I feel I enrich her life in my own inimitable way.
Gymgirl: I need to post on social media that I graduated. What did you post when you graduated? Me: I didn’t have the internet back then. Her: (laughing) Good god, you have to put that in your blog.
My Father’s Day was spent with the Gymgirl taking me to dim sum in Chinatown but the lines were out the door. So she bought me two lunches back-to-back. Soup dumplings at Joe’s Ginger and then Pho Bang on Mott Street. Was gonna stop by to see my buddy Rain but we had to get the kid.
The thing about the Gymgirl is that’s she’s so young, she never really thought about how she might raise a kid. But I’m pleasantly surprised that she and Alison woulda seen eye-to-eye on a lotta things.
Yesterday was the first Father’s Day I remember since everything went down last year. Don’t even remember if I saw my dad last year. Was in such a haze of grief, exhaustion, and alcohol.
After the Gymgirl left to see her own dad, I went shopping with the boy. He wasn’t feeling well so he just sat on the sidewalk and refused to move. Thought that was kinda frustratingly amusing. My dad woulda thought so too.
I always sigh when I think of things like that. Did it again just now.
God, I loved my father. He was difficult, but I think all fathers have to be a little difficult. Alison always told me, “Remember that we’re gonna be their parents, not their friends. At least, not for a really long time.”
When the boy sat down on the street, I tried to reason with him but ultimately had to start walking away for him to get up. Sometimes you gotta do that.
As for me, this lady named Mignon McLaughlin once said that, The past is to our back. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.
Don’t believe in much of anything these days. But in my head, Alison and my father are behind me, with a hand gently on my back in support.
Then, one September day, we told each other that we didn’t wanna be with anyone else.
Alison: You’ve finally accepted that I’m your Ship-in-the-Night Girl, huh? Me: (nodding) Yes.
That was a great day. Probably one of the happiest days of my life.
A good friend of mine was given an opportunity to start his own gym and asked me my thoughts.
Told him, honestly, that he owed it to his future self to take his chances as they come.
I mean, that’s the thing with every facet of life, yeah? You’re presented with an opportunity and you have to decide whether to stay with the devil you know or push all that doubt to the side of your mouth, shut up, and take your chances.
When Alison met me that night, my business was failing. A family friend stole most of my money. Was drinking and womanizing way too much.
And yet she saw something in me that made her take a chance on me.
She believed me when I told her I was looking for her all those years. While it was the truth, I can see how that might be a hard thing to accept with a fella like me.
I admit that in my sleepless nights, I worried she’d wake up one day and realize she’d made a terrible mistake.
But she never did.
She’s been gone only a year and I’m already in another relationship. Can’t express how guilty that makes me feel. But she’d want what was best for me and the boy.
And Alison knew I loved her and only her. That’s all that really matters to me.
That’s not entirely true: I want the kid to know I loved his mamma completely.
Did everything I could to save her for us. Life f___d us anyway.
The Gymgirl left this story a while ago. Suppose in the simplest terms, she and I both thought that it was too early for us to be in relationship. She had school and life going on and I had…well, you know what I had going on.
But I can’t be a hypocrite and tell my buddy, and everyone else, to take their chances as they come and not do it myself.
You see, the Gymgirl sees my broken self and thinks I might be something or someone great. Or nearabouts. And I think she’s something great also.
In the movie, Say Anything, even people that’ve never seen the film know that stupid scene where Lloyd holds that boombox over his head in the rain. Always thought that was idiotic when I was a kid and still do.
But the part I liked, and remembered, the most is at the very end where Loyd and Diane, who hates to fly, are on the airplane. Loyd goes:
All right, high level airline safety tips: If anything happens, it usually happens in the first five minutes of the flight, right?
And he says that smoking sign dings at around five minutes so they have to wait for the ding. The last two minutes of the film are them waiting for that ding.
Man, I’m so old, I remember smoking on a plane. And check out the hat the girl wears in the scene on the bottom.
But, to paraphase my sister, getting old is a gift. Not everyone gets to grow old.
On that note, May’s almost over, and the days I feared/hated the most in May are past.
Did some projects on the 24th to keep my head busy and made it through the day drinking only a little, relatively speaking. The Gymgirl helped.
It was still kind of a blur. That type of pain is like looking at the sun; you can’t do it for long otherwise it’ll damage you permanently.
Friday and Saturday were both better; on Friday, went to the gym and then introduced some of them to my fave dive bar in the Upper West Side.
On Saturday, met up with some people from my old gym out in Queens for a BBQ.
Why we all left the gym is a long story for another time but in a nutshell, it was because of the gym owner, albeit for slightly different reasons. It was good to see them all. Had a long talk with one of them about the nature of god and whether or not s/he even exists.
Him: I think, if anything, I’m agnostic right now. Me: I think that’s where I am too. If there is god, he wants nothing to do with me and I, him.
Sunday, I was supposed to have dinner plans with a friend but he bailed on me because he got a better offer, which is another story for another time.
Him: It’s not that big a deal. Me: No, you don’t get to piss on me and tell me it’s rain.
So I sent out a random Facebook event invite telling a handful of people that I was going to go downtown to get some all-you-can-eat sushi and if anyone was free, they should join me.
Called it: You have about 90 minutes to decide.
Surprisingly, both my coach and two students from the old gym – one of whom was at the BBQ – showed up and we ended up having a great time.
Me: Goddammit, wait until the first batch comes in before you order more food. Gee: This is not my first rodeo, Logan! I know what I’m capable of when it comes to all-you-can-eat! (food comes, we demolish it) Oh, look at that, now we need to order more food. Me: I’m sorry, you’re right. I never shoulda doubted you.
Took the train back with one of them and we were talking about our lives.
It all felt surprising normal.
Got out of the subway and went home. The Gymgirl was on a hike and the kid was away at my mom’s so I sat down on my white couch and poured myself a glass of rum and thought about everything. Old Memorial Days and such.
After I’m done writing this, probably gonna go see some other friends and pick up the kid from my mom’s.
There’s a train track that passes under 149th Street between Roosevelt and 41st Avenues in Queens.
When I was a fat kid, another boy once told me that he would kill me.
Don’t remember why; do remember that I believed him.
I was terrified. To the point that I seriously contemplated hurling myself in front of that train to avoid that.
Remembered wondering what I should wear. How odd.
Suppose all bullied kids have had similar thoughts. It’s unbearably sad to me when I hear of one going through with it. And yet depression and suicide have made regular appearances in my life, not just with me but with those close to me.
Never had the nerve to make that final cut. A good thing.
The oddest thing about Alison’s passing is that, since at least March, I’ve gone in the opposite direction.
I’m terrified about getting injured or, even worse, dying. Need to survive to take care of the boy. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before – the need to survive – not even for Alison when we were deliriously in love.
Alison used to tell me alla time that she loved me like a fat kid loves cake. That always made me laugh.
Alison loved me. But she didn’t need me. Didn’t want her to.
(When Alison was pregnant and before the cancer) Her: What if I need you? Me: You don’t. I don’t want you to. You need to take care of the kid. A boy needs his mama.
And he still does. But she’s not here. Wish she was with ever atom in my body but she’s not.
I am, though. Man, I was supposed to be the backup if everything went to hell. Everything went to hell.
Now I’m it cause this kid needs me. Like, he literally cannot survive without me.
Nuthin – no one – has ever truly needed me before like he does now.
I’ve never felt such a heavy and awesome responsibility before. It’s terrifying, really. It’s as terrifying to me as that bully that threatened to kill me.