I hope this doesn't mean I'm old
I have back pain. It sucks. I'll get to this in a moment.
I came to Austin from Cleveland, via England. My daughter, Edan, was born in the Southern part of Texas, 3 hours away from any major anything. For the first month of her life, I lived in the only room I could find to rent, surrounded by cockroaches, recovering alcoholics, Fox News, and gooey, sticky, unbearable hotness. I paid the owner $75 a week, which I thought was incredibly fair, seeing as his girlfriend was Edan's grandmother, and she wanted me dead.
However, I found it difficult to adjust to fatherhood in this environment.
Then my infant daughter moved with her mother back to England. I'd see her less than 10 times over the next 10 months. When Edan came back to visit, I'm not sure she knew who I was.
All things considered, it was an inauspicious beginning to our relationship. I'm not sure how it could've happened differently, but I'm filled with the usual regret, guilt, etc.
So. Even though it's been almost 2 years of seeing her at least once a week, and 2 months of seeing her nearly every day, I still obsess over every moment we spend together -- as if she'll suddenly disappear again, never really knowing I'm her father.
Hence, the back pain.
Even though it was really windy last week, I let Edan hold the kite all by herself. If I've told her once, I've told her a thousand times, "Hold the yellow handle. Whatever you do, never let go of the yellow handle." The reason I tell her this, over and over and over, is that two months ago she watched my girlfriend, Amanda, let go of her kite on purpose, just to see what would happen. Edan can't think about kites without remembering that moment, and reminding me how sad she'd be if her kite were to fly away -- but yet, she always lets go of the yellow handle, as if she has some kind of morbid fascination with sadness and loss.
Or, more likely, because she likes to see her paranoid-my-daughter-is-going-to-suffer-emotional-trauma father chase after it, slip, and fall on his ass. Hard. Clenching his teeth and grimacing as he returns the yellow handle to his 2 1/2-year-old, despite the fact that she keeps laughing and repeating, "Daddy, you fell! And you said sh*t!"
I got a little drunk the following evening. It was my friends' wedding -- which was beautiful -- but just before, or just after the alcohol I started feeling strange and out of place. Edan was at her mother's, and I was either bummed that she'd missed seeing her favorite grown-up get hitched, or was realizing that -- without my kid there -- I had no excuse for being so awkwardly out of touch with the other 20somethings. Regardless, the weirdness led to more drinking, and the drinking led to an inspired attempt to prove to those hipster attendees that I, too, I could get jiggy on the dance floor.
Unfortunately, in showing everyone that I was still young and fun by dancing wildly to hip-hop in my cowboy boots, I also demonstrated that I'm still capable of being short-sighted and irresponsible. This I realized upon waking up the following morning with both a hangover and a second-helping of the kite-flying back pain du death.
And yet, today, I'm still hobbling around in those stupid boots, trying to hide the facial tick I've developed from small bursts of fire scampering along my vertebrae.
Because yesterday, instead of retreating to an afternoon of toddler TV-time to nurse my wounds, I embraced the moment. Like a noble ass, blindly pushing forward even in the face of certain defeat, I decided that a little discomfort wouldn't stop me from taking my daughter where she'd been begging to go all week -- kayaking!
1. Kayaking involves a lot of paddling.
2.Toddlers like to reach for the river without warning, tipping your boat and filling it with water.
3.Kayaking involves a lot of paddling.
If my back could talk, it would've incredulously asked: "Kayaking? Are you trying to be stupid? How do you accomplish even the most basic daily tasks being that stupid?"
Plus, my only pair of shoes that don't look like nurse-wear from the 50s were now soaked, which forced me into the facial tick situated I mentioned previously.
So. Separated parenting = suffering.
On the other hand, I can't imagine I would ever have appreciated these overwhelmingly awesome moments had I never known what it was like to miss them -- back pain and all.