Up until I was about 35 years
old I always figured that someday I would be one of those lonesome old men who
end up walking the mall corridors. On
weekday mornings, when barely anyone else is around but the yawning store
workers rolling up the security gates and the occasional small flock of
high-school hooky players, there I'd be,
strolling right through the heart of a Cinnabon cloud by the fountain.
Then, one day, around 9:30, boom: I'd just gently tumble
over in a gentle whoosh of windbreaker and tennis shoes and that would be the end
of me. No one was going to really care.
No one would miss me all that much.
Someone would go to my small apartment
that smelled like Hall's Mentho-Lyptus and pick up my little mean Scottish terrier named Al Pacino and drive
him away. And with that, pretty much all traces of me and of my time here in this
life would be gone.
But I was wrong. I met a woman and fell in love, and one day
she announced to me that we were going to have a baby; I was surprised and
scared and thrilled and paranoid and blown away. Trying to prepare myself for
what was coming our way, I tried to put the enormity of the love that comes
with an impending kid into perspective, but that was dumb, really.
I mean, you can look
up at a skyscraper, dude.
But you can't ever hold it in your hand.
So, we had a baby and we called her Violet, and as soon as
she stuck her head out for her first peek at this world four years ago, my
whole legacy rewrote itself in the puff of an exploding moment. Suddenly, the weird buzz of loneliness I had
always felt deep down in my bones was gone, and I somehow got this really
sneaking suspicion that I was destined to never ever be alone again, no matter
what. I heard my daughter's first tiny gasp for air, and I took one look at her
dark black mop and her shining brown eyes and that was it; I was hers.
And I still am.
If I didn’t write about it, man, I honestly think my heart would explode.
It’s a gargantuan feeling, all of a sudden being some kid's dad. I felt all shot up with gladiator strength and X-ray eyes, and I was even secretly kind of hoping that some dipshit somewhere would look at my little girl with half-crossed eyes so that I would just have an excuse to grab him by the wrist and whirl him around up over my head and toss him toward the moon. Just so people would know that I was really into this kid of mine and that I meant business.
I began to write about Violet
pretty much from the get-go because I was freaking crazy about her and I knew
that I wanted her to be able to read about that down the road. I wanted her, as a 22-year-old, to
someday have the cool, loose freedom to move in and out of her old man's winding
tale of getting to know her and watching her grow and eat and poop and cry and
smile and talk and laugh and bleed and whisper and sigh, to have all of that
stuff at her fingertips, to read whenever she wanted to.
People talk about the hard
times, the vices that drag us down or the bad luck that seems, at times, to jump us around
every corner. I've had my share, same as anyone. But I have been on
the winning end of some seriously real magic in my life so far, too. Still, nothing in the world
could have ever prepared me for this dad thing. And if I didn't write about it,
man, I honestly think my heart would explode.
Which, come to think of it,
wouldn't bother me at all because, at this point, even if it does happen to me down at the mall some
morning and I do indeed clutch my chest and then hit the tiles on my way to
breakfast, that'll be a guy who really loved hard when he had the damn chance.
And what else can you really
want in the end, you know?