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.
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.
A friend of my sister’s dropped by yesterday with gifts for the kid – an owl plush toy, and a children’s book – plus a gift for me: Rum.
Her: I didn’t know her but I wish I did. She sounded like an amazing person. I hope you don’t find it strange that I show up here as a stranger.
And I spoke to an old friend I’ve not spoken to in ages.
Him: I met this girl. I’m selling everything and moving outta the city to be with her. I wouldn’t have imagined doing something like this before but then I thought of you and Alison.
In their own ways, they apologized for reducing the sum of Alison’s life to a life lesson or story.
But I told them not to apologize and related a quote I like from Margaret Atwood: In the end, we all become stories.
All I have left of her are a handful of pictures, two videos, and these stories in my head. And the boy, of course.
In honor of her birthday, let me tell you a silly story. It’s for me, really. To put it out into the aether and make it real again, if only for a bit.
She disliked beets. But I loved them.
Her: You like beets? Me: As my buddy would say: Nothing beats beets. Her: (rolls eyes)
So I came home one day to find her wearing gloves and covered in beet juice. When I saw her, she pretended that I caught her in the middle of a murder (we loved Dexter, you see). She wanted to surprise me with some roasted beets and dried beet chips.
In any case, I asked her if I could take a picture of her and she resisted. She hated having her picture taken. But I insisted. And I asked that she recreate the scream as well. She did.
She disliked all those things: The beets. The pictures. The recreation. But she did them all because I asked. Because she loved me so much.
It’s an amazing thing to be loved so much by someone you love so much.
Dammit, I wish I insisted on more pictures and videos. We never think we’ll need things like pictures and videos until it’s too late.
I f__king hate that I only have two videos of her. It guts me.
For her birthday, do me a favor?
Take a picture – or even better, take a video – of someone you love that loves you as much as she loved me. As much as I loved her.
As for me, I drink. I cry. I drink some more. I’ll be going to a party with friends and drinking myself silly.
And I try to forget that I had someone that loved me so deeply and so much that I loved so deeply and so much.
Her: Why do you want to take a picture? Me: Because I want to remember it. Her: I look terrible. I spent this whole time cooking. Me: You look beautiful. Please? Her: Fiiiiiine. Me: Can you recreate that scream? Her: (laughing) OK. But only for you. I would only do this for you.
Me: Are you alright? Gradgirl: Yeah. Me: Should I stop asking? Her: It doesn’t matter. I’ll keep lying.
And I saw my sister-in-law the other day at her new home in New Jersey to fix her WiFi network and grab lunch. Went with her for her closing earlier this year, just for moral support.
SIL: You should stop feeling sorry for yourself. Me: I don’t think I feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry that she’s not here.
It’s weird interacting with people these days for any reason beyond child-rearing. Feel like I’m putting on a show alla time. But I suppose it’s a lotta, Fake it till you make it.
Did see the Gymgirl the other day, though. She invited me to a work/school thingy. We’re trying a few things out.
Gymgirl: Who was that? Me: The Gradgirl. She’s in town for a bit. Her: Are you going to see her? Me: Why would I do that? Her: Didn’t you say you like to make out with her? Me: But I already have. Her: Oh, that’s a good response. (holding up hand) That deserves a high five.
I’ve a neighbor in my building that I never mention but should. After Alison passed away, my neighbor came to see me. She said that her church, Vision Church, wanted to help in some way.
Me: I’m not gonna lie, I could use the help. But I’ve lost my faith in God. In everything, really. It seems dishonest for me to take money from people that believe when I don’t myself. Her: (waving her hand)That doesn’t matter to us. We want to help, in some way.
Told her that I could really use some nannies. So for the past year, they’ve been covering most-to-all of his childcare. And some of her friends also help me with childcare on nights I’m able to go to my fencing class. One of the women from the mommy’s group also happens to go to the same church.
It’s pretty amazing, really.
I’d been meaning to write this post to publicly thank them – and her – for some time now but I’ve avoided it because of all my anger.
My friend who also lost his family said that you never get over the anger. He’s right. For every iota of sadness that exists, there’s a commensurate amount of rage.
Even writing this, I feel such a rage that I cannot adequately express.
Yet the kindness of these people – predominantly strangers – buoys me as much as my anger drags me down.
In any case, quite some time after we talked, I pulled up the website to Vision Church and was pleasantly surprised that their tagline was, Who’s your neighbor?
A guy’s robbed and beaten up and three people saw him but only the last one helped him. The third one happened to be a Samaritan. And he, out of the three, help the man.
“Be a good Samaritan/Be a good person,” is what most people think the moral of the story is.
But that’s not quite the point of the story.
See, the first two fellas were Jewish – the very first was a rabbi, the second, a Jewish nobleman. The third was the eponymous Samaritan – in other words, the third was not Jewish. Put another way, the third was not of the robbed man’s people whereas the first two were.
In fact, the Samaritans were adversaries of the Jews. Some might even say enemies. And yet this man still helped.
The real point of the story is: Help people, even if they’re not of your tribe. Even if they’re against everything you believe in. Even if they’re your adversary.
If you read this blog, I talk about tribes and family a lot.
These people from Vision Church knew I was not of their tribe and still wanted to help me and family. They still do. It’s humbling.
My rage is something I don’t think’ll ever go away. Don’t think it’s meant to.
I contact the Devil more frequently than I’ve ever done in the past because God – if he exists – and I are, at the very least, indifferent to each other.
At worst, we’re adversarial.
Yet, my anger is only ever tempered by my gratitude for people like those of this church and the kind of people that go to it. Those that say one thing and follow that same thing.
They are the good souls and I’m forever grateful for the good souls.
Her: There’re no strings attached. We just want to help. Me: (nodding) Then, thank you.
Speaking of good souls, Alison’s friends are doing a walk to remember her on her birthday this Saturday, May 12th.
I wanted you to know this because I wanted you to know that there are all these people that loved her so much that they would travel somewhere and do this for her.
As for me, I can’t go because … I can’t go.
I’ll be in the Bronx somewhere drinking and trying to forget what day it is. I try to forget a lotta things.
I’ve been dreading the start of May since about three weeks ago. And now it’s here.
I hate everything about everything, I think.
That’s not completely true.
Someone told me that the people you hang out with most after having a kid are other parents. Remember thinking that made sense but I wasn’t really aware how true that was until I started caring for the boy myself.
There are three women that I chat to online or in RL on an almost daily basis.
Me: I have a new hobby since I’ve become a father. Her: What’s that? Me: Well, I prepare all this really great, expensive, organic food, show it to the boy, and then throw it right into the trash.
One is a Slavic woman, another Chinese, and a third, Caucasian that lives across the street from me. There are other great people, almost all women, that I see on a weekly basis but they’re the main ones.
All three were exactly the type of women that Alison would have liked. Witty, kind, and intelligent. And great parents.
Me: I was running late so I crossed in the middle of the street with the stroller. I feel guilty about that. Her: (dismissively) Please, I do that all that time. If someone judges you, that means they don’t have a kid.
We met for drinks around the way the other night. The owner musta liked us because that’s him taking a shot with us.
I’m grateful they’ve accepted me into their club. It’s funny because I must be an odd addition to this group of mothers. An otherwise sad and peculiar single father of this awesome little kid.
As for me, I feel like I’ve stepped into Alison’s shoes and I try to do what she woulda done. At least, what I think she woulda done.
It makes me sad because I’m certain they would all have been friends with her and she them instead of me. I woulda preferred that so.
But I’m grateful that they’re my friends and help me feel like I’m doing something right. I also wish Alison was here so I could tell her about them. That we have that village here she wanted to have.
And maybe they could tell her that we’re ok.
Because Alison always worried about us and I wanted her to know that they think we’re ok.
Her: You’re doing great as a father. Me: Am I? Thanks for letting me know. I worry. About everything. Her: That’s called parenting. He’s such a happy kid. That’s why you’re doing great. Me: It’s all we ever wanted for him. To be a good and productive member of society. (clearing throat) Thanks.
There’s been an unceasing parade of people through my neighborhood and door since my first post this week.
Kinda feel like people are taking this opportunity to catch up with me since so many haven’t really seen me in years what with all the things that went on with the kid and Alison.
Her: How are you? Me: Utterly craptastic, you? Her: I’m sorry. Me: (shrugging) Honestly, it’s an improvement over my usual suicidally depressed nature last year.
My cousin stopped by to help watch the kid and, god love her, gave me just some terrible advice that I took.
Me: Dude, you were so, so, so, so wrong. Her: Yeesh….well here are some adorable pics of your son to make you feel better.
They were adorable pics and it all worked out anyway. See above and below.
Then several guys from my gym stopped by for lunch and to meet finally my son.
Me: (to son) The first two guys you can talk to but avoid that guy. Him: Hey, I’m great with kids. (turning to son) Right?
They brought Cuban Chinese food and I provided some really cheap beer.
Him: Rolling Rock and PBR? Man, you weren’t kidding when you said it was crappy beer. Me: I need to get back to work and make some scratch. (looking at the food) And I told you guys, don’t get the Chinese food there. It’s terrible. (The Cuban food is excellent) Him: Don’t worry, it’s for Andy and he’s not here yet so he doesn’t know.
And then another friend called me out for a late lunch and to bring me to her friend’s townhouse to check out what $15 million buys you in Manhattan. Amongst other things, a kitchen bigger than my apartment and a cool shaft where you send up and down wine.
Her: We’re wondering if we should put in a pool or sauna in the basement. Me: Heck, do both. I’ll come over when it’s done.
Still another buddy has been texting me about all the stuff all of us are dealing with as we’re getting older. The texts culminated in this, which made me literally laugh out loud:
All of this woulda been fine except the kid – who normally sleeps like a brick – has been waking up in the middle of the night and needing a change. So I’ve been getting about four hours of sleep a night.
Plus I’ve been scrambling to have a sitter because both my regular and the Gymgirl are out. That means it’s just me and the kid, oftentimes.
Speaking of Gymgirl, spoke to her late the other night just to tie up some things. While that was great, for various reasons, it didn’t help the sleeping issues at all.
Man, I wish her every good thing.
As for me, I wish everything about my life were different. Every single goddamn thing.
Except the kid. He’s perfect. He’s my perfect little guy.
A little while ago, when Alison was in the ER for the umpteenth time, two buddies of mine showed up despite my telling them not to.
I think that most of my friends must have read that because my Facebook and email exploded after my last post with people wanting to meet up.
It was flattering but I told them all that I was busy with the kid, which is the truth.
But even then: Three people are swinging by while the kid’s asleep this week, another friend came by already, the ABFF told me she was stopping by as well, and this sweet girl – who’s also a pro-fighter – from my new gym wrote me this really upbeat message. Some of the mothers I know also boosted my ego as well:
Her: When you’re ready to date again, I have someone for you. Me: This *just* happened! Her: I didn’t even know you were dating again when you told me that you were exclusive with Gymgirl! Anyway, what are your thoughts on pharmacists? Me: They give me drugs, what’s there not to like?
Of course, all this was balanced out by my mom:
Her: You’re single again? Me: Yeah, it’ll be fine, I’ve been… Her: Oh no! Can you function by yourself? What about the baby? Me: Thanks, mom. (nodding slowly) That’s just what I needed right now.
Speaking of my mom, she sent this to my brother (in blue) recently, who sent it to me with a title: I’m. 46. Years. Old.
Told my brother that it doesn’t matter how big the kid gets, he’s always gonna be my little guy.
On that note, I had to scramble to find someone to take care of the kid while I went to the dentist for a final fix. Ending up having my cousin from the Cornell trip come by.
Me: Have you ever taken care of a kid while he’s being potty trained? Her: (dismissively) I have two dogs. It’ll be fine. Me: I literally have nothing to say about that.
The dentist is actually the wife of another friend of mine from the gym: Massol Dental, NYC. Honestly, it was the nicest dentist’s office I’d ever been to – much better than my usual dental joints. It felt kinda like a spa but with teeth drills.
She was amazingly nice and I probably spent way too much time pestering her for childrearing advice because she has sons, while most of the people from my daily life have daughters.
Me: I didn’t know parenting would be so gross. Her: Oh, it’s gonna be gross for a long time. Me: (nodding) OK, good to know.
Eventually, she got to the task at hand.
Me: You’re lovely, really, but I hate being here. Dentist: We get that all the time. Open wide… Assistant: (later) Do you want to hold these [foam stress relievers]? They’re for children but… Me: (mouth numb, nodding) Sewer. Her: Here you go.
I’m 45 in less than a week but I got a birthday cake today after all.
Didn’t get to sleep the night before until it was late.
I was gonna spend the day inside writing while everyone else went on a hike to Buttermilk Falls but the weather was too good not to go.
Gymgirl: You’re going hiking? Me: I’m as surprised as you are. I mean, I’m gonna complain the whole time, but yes.
Got dressed and grabbed my bag.
Her: Oh! Don’t forget to bring your picture of Alison. Me: (feeling for her picture in the bag) Got it.
We went downstairs to meet my cousin and her boyfriend, Young, who’s only a few years younger than me (no pun intended).
Cousin: You’re going hiking? Me: I’m as surprised as you are. I mean, I’m gonna complain the whole time, but yes. Young: (later) This is great. Now I know why she likes making fun of how old I am. Me: Yeah, this is just great.
We arrived at the falls and it was pretty empty. Most people were away for the Easter holiday, which meant we had most of the hill for ourselves.
We ended up hiking for a solid 90 minutes or so, mostly uphill. The girls really enjoyed it. Us, not so much.
Me: This was a terrible idea. We should just push the two of them down the hill and get something to eat. Young: Nah, they’ll both just say “wheeee!” alla way down.
We got as far as we could go before we had to turn back. Well, that’s not completely true.
Me: It says it’s dangerous and blocked off we should… Gymgirl: (goes around fence) Me: …just ignore all the warning signs and go in anyway.
Gymgirl: (later) Why don’t I take a picture with you and Alison? Me: (nods)
Afterward, took the hike back down and then went to the Statler Hotel for brunch. Was so hungry that I forgot to take pics.
Cousin: I thought you were just going to eat bacon. Me: I didn’t know steak and salmon were an option.
When we were done, most of them wanted to see the brain exhibit that was going on but Young and I both decided to head to the library there and just chill for a while.
Took some more pics of Alison there. The library was where I spent most of my time in college and I always wanted Alison to see it. It looks like a scene from Hogwarts. She woulda loved it.
Gymgirl met up with us a little while later and took some pics of me.
Everyone ended up going to some wineries around the area but I just wanted to sit in the library and think and write for a bit.
When everyone got back, we went out for dinner but this post is getting long and you’re probably bored so I’ll just finish it up tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s a picture of my family in Cornell, finally.