Friday, September 10, 2010

First

So, I was born in St. Louis, grew up in St. Louis, graduated from preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school and college in St. Louis, and now I live and work in St. Louis. But, thanks to a year long sojourn in Minneapolis, MN, I met a wonderful woman named Kathy whom I then married. And now, we have...a daughter.

Trust me, those last two things would never have happened without going to Minneapolis.

So we've got this daughter, and it turns out, being a father is a tremendously awesome experience so far. Everything that's happened is a first. First baby, first smile, first time getting pooped on, first late night diaper change, first time having to turn down going to a bar or a concert because I've got this kid thing happening instead. And sure, missing Janelle Monae with Of Montreal will be annoying, but when will my daughter Juliette ever be this young again? The answer is, of course, never.

Anyway, it's been over a month since she was born, and I thought about doing some fatherly blogging over at my other blog (which you should totally go read right now) but decided, nah, let's keep that one focused on the life of Elliot-the-writer. But what to do about Elliot-the-Father?

Well, here we find ourselves, at the answer. A new blog. Pretty swank, I know.

So, the week Juliette was born, The Arcade Fire released their third album The Suburbs and NPR Music had an exclusive first listen. So, I gave it a listen, and I loved it. I was a fan of their first two albums but something about this third one just sort of...spoke to me at this moment in my life. And it actually wasn't until my second listen that I caught the moment at which this album spoke directly to what I was feeling.



This is the album's titular and opening track, and the lyrics to the third verse are what did it. "Can you understand/Why I want a daughter while I'm still young?/I want to hold her hand, show her some beauty/before this damage is done/But if it's too much to ask if it's too much to ask/send me a son."

Listen to it again, and pay attention to the way the verse structure sort of falls apart a little. Win Butler (the lead singer) sings the first two verses, but when he gets here, he's almost talking through it, working it out for himself, coming to terms. It's beautiful to me.

Kathy and I did not do the whole "Let's find out what the sex is so we can decorate accordingly" thing because, we think we might want to have another kid, and since you can't force it one way or another, a room decorated in all pinks or all blues would be an annoying inconvenience if the next child arrived expecting the opposite of what it got. So, neutrals (greens, yellows, etc). I'll freely admit, I was hoping or a boy. Boys, you see, are stereotypically the ones who play catch with their dads and follow their interests. It would be much easier, I thought, to get a boy to listen to Led Zeppelin records and for us to connect over stuff like that because, I thought, I'm a guy and this stuff is important to me, so if I have a son this stuff will be important to him. So, yes, I had my heart set (not firmly, but still somewhat) on a boy.

So when I heard this lyric, really heard it, it shifted me a little. The way he sings it. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Save-A-Lot grocery store near our house, and I had gotten lucky streaming the Arcade Fire station on Pandora over my iPhone, and at that moment just before I got out of the car I heard it. I got the milk, or the bread, or whatever, and came home and thought that I would be just fine with a daughter. Because there are definitely going to be ways for me to connect to a child, any child, whom I care about. Because ultimately, it's not about the stuff that's important to me. That stuff isn't going to be what I connect with my child over; what we're going to connect over is the fact that that child-my child-is important to me. That realization hit me August 3rd, 2010.

At 10:45 PM on August 4th, two weeks and one day earlier than expected, my wife and I were in the car heading for the maternity ward. And at 7:17 on the morning of August 5th, I cried the most incredibly joyful tears I've ever shed as my beautiful daughter Juliette entered the world. I still haven't bought the actual album yet, but it will always remind me of my daughter. In eighteen years, when I'm sending her off to college, I'll probably spend my first Juliette-free hour listening to that record. Probably the first few of those hours, actually.

Dad and Daughter 8/8/10

3 comments:

  1. Elliot... you are awesome. Thank you.

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  2. Elliot, you made me tear up. You are going to be an awesome Dad.

    ReplyDelete