There are moments when all your living slows down, man.
There are times, a few times in your life usually, when the world outside your bobbing vessel goes all dodgy cassette tape, drawing out the music/making it warble/clamping its fat firm hands on both sides of your particular day and holding it hard, like one of those good old boys who reach down into a drowned stump and slowly wrap their mitts around some dinosaur catfish.
Me sitting on the couch under the front window of the rental house that evening, sitting there in my Carhartts bedazzled with floor tile mud, looking/staring/shooting my eyeball lasers into the soft western blues of Monica’s pupils and out the back of her head and down the road past the parks and the malls and over rivers and out into the tired ancient sage brush at the skirt of the mountains, and then bucking up onto the slopes, climbing them frantically like some wild crazy mustang with a honeybee in his ass, up up up UpUpUpUpUp! over the jagged rocks/over the bleached bones of old dead quail and field mice and diamondback rattlesnakes who had just stopped moving around one day: their simple drive to keep things going just collapsing on itself out in the middle of some beef jerky piece of ground where nothing has grown but dust and sadness for the last 50,000 trillion years; tiny sets of squat lungs taking in one last breath and then forgetting to exhale it forever; a string of days ending with no fanfare at all/ no parade of Disney animals marching up and down the skinny deer trails in Technicolor Zip-A Dee-Doo-Dah tribute or anything like that, and me crashing up over the ridge, crushing them with my Timberland; me: sitting on the couch under the front window of the rental house that evening, trying hard to make sense of the faint girly echo pinging around my head, her saying from behind her lovely wide smile that, yeah, she’s pregnant.
I guess I tried to run for a second there. I guess when it hits you, when it hit me anyways, I was caught off guard, even though we’d been hoping for this to happen, trying our best to get it to be something true in our world instead of some wish we had to just whisper at each other in the dark, in the bed. I guess I looked in her eyes up in my head and turned around and ran like hell when she set the cosmos loose in the room. You can’t blame me, really. I have always been a little bit of a dumb ass.
But, listen, I knew what I was doing: taking one last mad dash up a mountainside in the back of my imagination, trying to shake the last bit of yesterday and all that ridiculous wasted sweet sweet honey-dipped independence off of my back because I knew that I had to let it go right then and there, forever you see.
Then, I came back into the room, man. Then, I came back into the room and looked down at the fresh thick Barnes & Noble copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting I was gripping in my hands, the gift she had just had me unwrap, with the positive pee stick as a bookmark stuck down somewhere in the middle pages, and I looked in her face and I stopped at her eyes and I didn’t come out the backside of her head this time and for the first time in my life, I was so madly madly in love with a person, with her, and with where she was taking me.
I cried, I guess. But it was real and cool and it was my best cry ever. I was above myself looking down at me and us, and I could see that I was dressed up like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. And I could see right then that I was really really excited to be someone’s daddy.
And I could see that I was gonna be freaking unstoppable, dude. Freaking. Un. Stoppable.
People like to think that they know things, but mostly people don’t know anything at all. Or at least, they don’t know much worth knowing. Life is over in the time it takes a butterfly to piss down in an old toad’s eye, but we act like we have so many answers about how to master the art of living.
Do this, we say, do things like this.
Look at me!/Watch me dammit!, we cry out as our fingernails are scraping down the metal slide, our bodies/our souls just a few feet of summer’s day from slipping off the edge of that thing, down into something a super whole helluva lot different than the little renovated two-bedroom walk-up on a cloud where we kinda convinced ourselves we were going to spend eternity hanging out with the old gang when all of these goofball lights finally went out.
People like to squint through their eye-holes at you when you are pushing your stroller down through the mall, bud. Some people like to take a swift gander, size you up as if you were the silhouetted enemy sneaking out from the rice paddy mist with a machine gun cradled in your arm dip, and shoot you down with just a few words that they speak to themselves.
It’s called judgement and it’s what makes human beings so weak and exhausting and exhausted in the end.
But there is this other thing called wisdom though and if you’re really lucky, and you play the ponies just right, someday, towards the end of your time here, you recognize that you have picked up some of that stuff along the trail.
And only then, do you realize you were so wrong for so damn long.
Fatherhood is the greatest trip you will ever embark on.
You might set out upon it’s rough seas in a fancy yacht. Good for you. Or you might push off the beat-up dock some morning in dinghy made of cardboard and goose crap glue. It doesn’t really matter, my man. The thing is, you are going to get to be a dad.
Not just a father, but a dad too.
You are gonna have whole vast galaxies of love ripped wide open for you to sail right under if you want to. And if you choose to do it/if you choose to go, the whole time you are out there heaving up and down on the endless waves, you are going to see other guys, in other boats…some bigger and better than yours, some way worse for the wear, and you are gonna have to wave at them, a short half-ass jab at the air while seagulls circle over you and shark shadows pass down below.
But you are never gonna be able to really hear their voices, even if the four winds are calm and the birds are quiet, because you’re out there together, true true; but really, you’re out there all by yourself.
That’s what being a daddy is.
It’s a lonesome voyage.
And, if you ask me, the only advice you’re ever going to need to get about how to do it will be this right here, my brother.
Pull your own heart out of your chest. Smash your fists right through your ribs and reach inside your hot, hot chest cavity and pull that throbbing beautiful beast out into the sunlight and hold it up to your face like the Magic 8 ball that it’s always been.
Own it. All of it. Like some long lost treasure, dude, just waiting for you to dig it up.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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