Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pick a cliché, any cliché

I am standing in the middle of an eight-way highway interchange. Frozen by tonic immobility as the events of my life whiz by me at speeds that must surely be illegal, immoral, and fattening.

Tomorrow, I will engage with a new ‘smartphone’ that will tell me where I am, where I should go, how I should get there, who’s calling /where they are, and can surely measure my core body temperature if I only insert the appropriate Bluetooth device. In other words, I will be entering into a new relationship. I know this because I see it, everyday. Just now, my computer insisted that I capitalize “Bluetooth.” I have co-workers that stare blithely into these things seemingly at every turn. I truly do not wish to be assimilated as much as I want to just keep up; I too must have something to do while everyone else is checking their YouTube accounts, not just stand there with empty hands and something witty to say. Now I’ll be able to Twitter it for the entire world’s pleasure, just like this blog. My initial enthusiasm for all of this stuff has been replaced by a slight nausea. I think that’s healthy, although my blog continues. . .

I’m facing a practical problem when it comes to this space. I may have written about it, before -  I don’t remember, and am too lazy to either tag my posts for later search or look it up, now (Technology does not exist in a guiltless vacuum – it simply enhances it in new and exciting ways).  I know that this problem has existed as long as writing has. Mark Twain purposefully stalled his autobiography for 100 years because of it – it’s only being published now. I have taken some solace in this.  The problem is one of exposure. I am a pretty open person; I attribute that to being brought up in a Minister’s home where our lives were pretty exposed to a large circle of people -  in fact, many aspects of my personal and home life were used as sermon ‘illustrations.’ Just ask my Mom about Walnut Chicken. One of the things that I have learned in my life outside the parsonage is that there is a modicum of privacy available for those who choose it. Most of the things I’ve had to write about, lately, have involved other people, and I ultimately have not felt comfortable (or courageous, if one were to assume a militant stance) enough to make them feel as I often did sitting in those pews as a young boy. I’m not claiming psychic damage here, I’m just making a point. Not clever enough yet to mask my personal relationships with the polite fiction of a novel (that allows deniability), I struggle to write about my life without exposing theirs. It was fairly easy when Emma was more idea than ingénue – when it was mostly about me and how I wrap my head around the implications of her existence, rather than the practical realization that I’ve been changing diapers for nearly 14 years, now (yes, that includes Sam’s warm-up years). If I am to preserve this privacy for my family and friends, can I exclude Emma merely because she’s not ‘aware’ enough to be embarrassed or feel ‘exposed?’ I’m struggling with this.

Is it important (to whom? to me? to you? to my great friends whom I’ve met through blogging?) that I write about the realization that my 11-year old daughter is now beginning the process of becoming capable of reproduction (How’s that for taking ‘that’ to a new level. . . )?  Would any  ‘normal’ 11 year old girl be happy that her Dad had announced this to the world? Uh, NOT! I suppose that I should have, could have blogged about it before it happened, but there’s nothing like being in the moment to bring things into sharper focus. I can only imagine that, typically, this is a milestone calling for trepidation – any reasonable thinking Father would be thinking in terms of a triple-walled compound with guard dogs and underground sensors. For me, there are added dimensions of fear. I’m not going to enumerate them now, you’re all smart enough to go down that path as far as you may wish to. Those few ‘outsiders’ that I’ve shared this with give me a look that I haven’t seen in a long time – you can see the torment in their eyes as they need to respond to you, but would much rather be running down the street in the opposite direction screaming obscenities at the top of their lungs. It’s nice to share, if only for the moment as you see it flash across their countenance.  I say, “nice”, yeah it’s a guilty serendipitous pleasure, and I’m not sorry.

Well, since that ‘genie is out of the bottle’, I suppose I’ve given us all permission to talk about it some more, and I may. My reason for taking this particular liberty is that I’m trying to focus this blog on my experiences and thoughts about being Emma’s Dad. It’s a bit unique, and I have been told that it’s given some others insight. Although Emma may not ‘mind’ (gosh, that’s a loaded word, there), I do mean to mind her as a whole person. I think it’s why I’ve seen so many be so passionate, publicly, about their kids and experience at first; not so much as they get older. Passions wane, wounds (actual and perceived) heal, and the just plain reality of bumping through those diaper and bedding changes become the numbing ‘normal.’ It’s why I admire my friend Nick; he’s been able to get in position by virtue of who and what he is to make a real difference in the lives of many in Ireland – from my great distance I’ve seen him mold anger and pain into purpose.

These are just a couple of the ‘crossroads’  I’ve been standing in. 51, with all of the incumbent inhibitions. I have great family and friends, a home, and health insurance. I am, by just about any standard, content. Just Bittersweet, that’s all.