Three years ago tonight, my wife and I drove the Honda to the hospital, parked her in the underground garage, walked inside, and had a baby girl.
I never dreamed that I would know anything as cool/magical as being a dad, and most days: I still find myself wondering if something didn’t get muffed up out in the Cosmos; if it wasn’t supposed to be some other dude winning a beautiful daughter and not me.
But, if I find a fiver on the floor in Wal-Mart, I don’t go traipsing around trying to get it back to whoever dropped it.
What I do is I act like I’m tying my boot, you see, and then, with the Secret Agent slyness, I pull the paper slip up into my sleeve. And then, I walk around under the halogens with a giddy racing heart, with a soaring spirit.
Then, I mosey to the back of the store, slipping my hand in the deep pocket of my Levis, feeling the Lincoln’s sweet papery crinkle of promise, and look at camouflage steering wheel covers with the guiltless conscience of the mega rich.
And that’s how I have been handling fatherhood, too, you see. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be me after all. Maybe my Violet was supposed to land in the arms of some better man than me three years ago tomorrow. Maybe she was headed for a better man, a handsomer man, a man with business acumen and university degrees and six-pack abs instead of six-pack problems. Such a wonderful little girl, surely she was destined for a man with a plan, and not some bumbling rock musician whose only savings in the world was three freezer bags full of souvenir magnets from Portland and Barcelona and London and Austin and wherever else he’d once played guitar when he was younger. Surely, it wasn’t supposed to be me getting her.
Three years of Diapers At The Gates of Dawn. Three years of kissing a soft curly scalp in the cool darkness of the morning halls. Three years of loading the coffee maker while she sits there in the high chair, babbling her secret language, smiling up at me/ beaming the new morning electric into my chest from her little crusty eye sockets. Three years of filling bathtubs with warm water and plastic turtles and ships. Three years of me stretching back my right arm/ holding her tiny hand/ steering the car with my left.
So yeah, I’m not giving the kid back. We crashed into each others galaxies somehow and that’s that.
I found the biggest fiver in the universe. And I’m keeping that thing forever and ever and ever, yo.
Happy Birthday, baby.