Trapped between worlds the duality of my life
During last night’s wedding extravaganza I came to the realization that I live multiple lives. I am a father, husband, and friend. And sometimes the juxtaposition of these roles is quite interesting. They don’t always mesh as well as they could, there are corners that are filled with white space and holes that need to be darned surrounded by patches of this and that.
I don’t think that this is unusual or that I am any different than anyone else. But sometimes the distinctions between who I am are so clear to me.
We went to the wedding without the children and let our hair down. Or in my case I just let it be and hoped that the lack of stress would encourage follicular settlement. For that matter we are currently offering special incentive packages to hairs that are looking to move out to a wild and wooly frontier land. They would be moving into space that was formally occupied, but is not currently being used. In some cases their neighbors would be located quite some distance away so they need to have a solid disposition and not be afraid to be alone.
But I digress.
So the wedding was good, even if the music was oppressively loud. Jack was feeling good, no screaming children, no negotiating bed time, dinner, television, books or anything else. And I was among my friends.
And then the duality of existence entered my eyesight. I saw a clock and realized that the babysitters needed my attention, it was time to call and check in. Of course the babysitters were the grandparents, my parents who never brooked any backtalk. There wasn’t any negotiating for bedtime, you just went to sleep.
Somewhere between my 18th birthday and now they lost that edge. My son has them dancing and singing his praises, which is probably as it should be. But I can still complain about their capitualation. He doesn’t need to stay up an extra 15 minutes. At worst he’ll complain and cry, but he’ll still love them. I still love them and they did worse to me.
Reality check, why did I look at the clock, now I realize that party time will be ending soon. As long as I am outside I stop to check the score of the game, the Dodgers have lost. They are eliminated. Now the evening is really moving.
Return to the interior and resume discussion with single male friends. Listen to stories of club med and women who would have loved to have met me. The boys are intentionally baiting me. I remember those single days and I remember the bad with the good, but heck, I am allowed to admit that I could have gone for a little hedonistic recreation. A little battery recharge.
And then the wives begin to appear and we know that the single boys will have to hold the line for us, me and the other fathers will go home. Even worse, visions of “friendly women” are now replaced with thoughts that one day boys will look at my daughter that way.
Now a new character emerges, protective, angry father. I know that some kid will try and bullshit me about not wanting to sleep with my daughter. I am not stupid, I am male. I know how men think and I know that some kid on hormonal overdrive will think things that make me shudder.
She is so little now, too little to really worry about this, but I can’t help it. Today when I hit the gym it will be with the intent to make sure that in 15 years I am just as intimidating as I am now.
We are about to leave when I run into the little sister of another old friend. The wife is elsewhere so she asks about the girlfriend who dumped me when I was 19. I explain that life didn’t end 16 years ago and I haven’t the foggiest idea if she is married now, nor do I care to think about it.
But between you and me, I smile when I think about the 19 year-old I used to be and the fun that we had. I won’t kiss and tell, that is a different blog than the one I run now.
Suddenly I am home, parents are running out the door, son is sleeping, he snores like I do. Check on my daughter and I feel my chest swell with pride. The kinder are here and I am dad again. Stop to consider if they’ll ever be able to think of me as a single person, or if I’ll be some old stuffy guy to them.
It’ll be an interesting journey.
Anshel's Wife October 12, 2004 at 12:09 am
I love when you write about your kids. I love when you write about your life. This post, in particular, was so wonderful. I know how you feel. I don’t feel old. I still want to do the things I used to do when I was much younger. But then I think about my life now and all the stuff from the past doesn’t seem so interesting anymore. I mean, it’s not as desirable to me as my life is now. I would never, G-d forbid, give up my kids or my marriage to have the things I used to have. I think that’s called maturity. Maybe by the time I’m 40 I will really get it.