Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well
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It’s May. I hate May.

Some new friends


This time last year was absolute f_____g hell.

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.

I’ll tell Alison if I ever see her again.

Oh, I’d love to see her again.

Location: in front of a new bottle of rum. It was new. It’s no longer new.
Mood: heartbroken
Music: Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
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Citrus Betty, the playa

Surviving it all

Me: (with kid in stroller) Can you pop the trunk?
Brother: Why don’t you just put him in the car seat?

My brother visited me the other day.

He used to come all of the time to see my dad. Now he comes to see my mom. He travels here from Cali and I wish I had more time to spend with him but I’m always taking care of the kid.

The week he came, I started potty training. It’s been tiring and gross, I’ll leave it at that. Also been sick. Seems like I’m constantly sick; kids his age are like sponges for germs so as soon as I’m over one cold, another one starts.

So I only got to see him one night and even then, we didn’t get to really spend any time together. But we all went out – him, me, the kid, and Gymgirl – and got some food at this joint called Playa Betty’s.

It used to be a Latin fusion place called Citrus. Was last there with Alison on December 31, 2008 at 11:30PM. I know the time because I wrote briefly about it here. We sat on the second floor and she and I both ate so much that we had to head home before it actually turned to 2009.

This is a picture I took that night. It’s not great but it’s all I got. She just laughed at something I said. I’m just hilarious.

And there I was at this new/old place earlier this week with our son and another woman and my brother.

Felt it kinda perfectly summed up my life now: Very different but with some unifying things. My brother has always been a constant in my life, and for that, I’m so grateful.

At his wedding (he’s single now) I joked that he was a year older than me. Said that I couldn’t imagine how he survived that year without me. Truth is, I’m not sure how I woulda survived all this without him.

As for me, I’m trying to move on as best I can. Mainly for the kid. Suppose it doesn’t really matter why I move on, just that I do.

And I’m always thankful for the good souls that keep me company along the way.

Nate: (pointing to his room while eating dinner) Mom! Mom!
Gymgirl: You want your mom? Let me get her for you. (gets up, goes to room and returns with Alison’s picture) Here you go. Mom!
Nate: (laughs, takes picture) Mom.

Location: In front of a potty
Mood: still injured, still heartbroken, still here
Music: In my heart, she left a hole
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Disquieting

Everything worries me

Him: How’s it being a dad?
Me: Disquieting.

The boy is rambunctious.

He’s kinda like a cat that randomly runs into another room for no reason, only to hurriedly run back. Like the cat, he knows exactly why he runs, but the observer does not.

As I told a buddy, life with him is disquieting.

Not because of things like that, though. That’s comforting, somehow; that he’s a happy child, doing happy child things.

Rather, it’s because of something that Alison related to me once that her mother told her: The day you have a child is the day you start to worry and never stop.

I agree with that. And my case is especially anxiety producing, for two reasons:

1) I do this mainly alone.
2) Everything worries me.

On the former, I don’t have Alison’s keen insight into child rearing that she seemed to have naturally. She had an answer for everything.

Wish she was around for a million reasons, one of which is that I don’t have anyone to discuss rando child-rearing things with.

On the latter, that’s a different matter.

The other day, we stopped by a Super Bowl party with the same neighbors I spent NYE with. While there he fell and hit his head while playing around with RE Mike.

For anyone else, this is probably something that’s quickly forgotten. But because of what happened to Alison, any time he hits his head, feel a panic that I can’t describe.

Didn’t sleep well for a few nights afterward.

After all, what is anxiety if not the fear of the hypothetical?

Parenthood, ideally, is filled with love. But for every drop of love, there’s a commensurate drop of fear, I think.

All the more for me because of what happened to our family and because he’s all I have left that matters from her.

Then again, I suppose fear’s the bargain one makes for love. For some it’s too high a price to pay, and I get that. Now more than ever.

But I still think it’s worth it. I’d do everything all over again in a heartbeat.

Man, if you could see my kid laugh and not love him, you’re a tougher person than I.

And I’m made of titanium.

My mom: He said “I want daddy” while you were away.
Me: Get outta here. Wait, “daddy” or “papa?”
Her: Daddy.
Me: I wonder where he learned that from?
Her: Does that really matter?
Me: No. I guess not. (leaning in) Did you miss me?
Him: No!
Me: (laughing) Well, that didn’t last long.

 

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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Ancient conversations, just ancient

Conversations


For you to get the full effect of this story, you have to know that I’m a germaphobe.

Not a terribly bad one, but enough that I’ll return home to get bottle of hand sanitizer if I leave with it or buy a new one immediately.

At last count, I have 14 bottles of them. That I know of.

I gave the little guy a bath the other day and he did something he’s never done before:

Me: …and that’s why the story of Tyre, the seige of Alexander the Great, and the Elvis Barbershop. Wait, what are you doing?
Him: (concentrating)
Me: Wait, are you…? No, don’t you…don’t…ohmygod…what are you doing?! For the love of god, stop! Stop! Stop! Don’t! Oh, man…
Him: (doesn’t stop until he’s done, inhales, smiles)
Me: (sighs) Well, papa’s gonna go throw up now. Then we’ll clean you up and figure out how to sell this apartment. We can never come back here.


Was on 41st Avenue, between Main Street and College Point Avenue in Queens the other day. Saw this lanky construction worker lead this group of elderly Chinese women around the construction site.

That’s him in the pic above.

He spoke to them in polite but limited Chinese, despite not being Chinese himself. I had to chat with him.

Me: Dude, that’s cool.
Him: What?
Me: That you took the time to learn the words to talk to them.
Him: (laughing) Thanks! I try. I figured I should learn how to say the right thing.
Me: (holding out hand) I like meeting nice people. The world’s fulla douchebags. It needs more nice people.
Him: (smiles and takes my hand)


Striking up conversations is a skill, but not always one that ends up anywhere meaningful. Although they’re all interesting in their own right.

Me: (interrupting) …sorry, I have to ask how old you are before we go on.
Her: 22, why?
Me: Oh, that won’t do at all.
Her: (laughing) Why? How old are you?
Me: Not to ruin this lovely conversation but…ancient. Just ancient.

Speaking of conversations and foreign languages, here’s a video with Oakland Raider, James Cowser discussing dim sum with much (much) better Chinese than I ever have.

Went to dim sum with someone recently but that’s a story for another time. One can only jump around so much in a single blog entry without making the reader’s head spin.

I think I hate James Cowser. Purely out of jealousy.

Location: all over the place
Mood: not good, not terrible. Meh
Music: I’m a funny little thing, I can tell you this for nothing
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Rum carrier part two

New rules

Rum Carrier Lunchbox

Several of my male friends – alla whom have children of their own – told me to just use the rum carrier.

Bryson: Leave the rum tag! That’s hilarious and will be a great story that we will be telling your son later in life. By the way, that bag is nicer than anything I own.
JJ: It’s who you are. You gotta do you, man.
GS: Don’t even trip.
TR: Rum container is genius
RB: Just put some Star Wars stickers over the logo…bam

It always bothers me to go against dispassionate logic – it’s actually the best item I have for the job at had.

So Nate went off to school the other day with his gear stuffed into rum bag with his name over the word “rum” and I went home thinking that I need a rule that ensures he’ll always be true to who he actually is.


Elle wrote me this long and sweet email that made me cry. She moved back to LA, got married, had two kids.

Her: Sorry it took me this long to write and reach out. I’ve been meaning to but each time I thought about it, I couldn’t get the right words.
Me: I want to write you more but I can’t. I’m a mess. I miss her. I miss you. I miss my old life. Everything. I am so very happy for you, though. You have everything I would have hoped for in my life.

That’s kinda how my life is these days. Sweet, sad, and nostalgic, all mixed up together.

And the occasional funny that makes me laugh if no one else.

Everyone finds having someone like me in their lives amusing – until it’s no longer amusing.

Him: My cousin is heading here for a few days. (thinking) Stay away from her, Logan!
Me: She’s 25 right? Don’t worry. I have a strict “no one below 27” rule.
Him: You just told me the last girl was 25.
Me: (shaking head) Well, it was more of an informal guideline back then.

Location: my white desk, getting ready to go out
Mood: wistful
Music: Most of everyday is full of tired excuses
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