Four years ago to the day (more or less; the photo was taken May 26, 2012). Ella was not even three-months-old. I was thirty-five. I’m not sure who has aged more–Ella or me. She’s writing letters now, whole names: ELLA, OWEN. She quotes chunks of JAWS. She nails “this shark, swallow you whole.” She worries when people call her “beautiful.” She doesn’t want to be beautiful, not yet. She wants to be “cute.” She dresses in clashing patterns. She refuses to tie her hair up. She’s “only four,” she reminds me.
I’m still wearing a short swimsuit, though not this short. My beard is 50% grey. My prominent nose looks a bit uneven, somehow more flattened and large. And there’s this line, this new line that runs down my left cheek. My skinny man’s paunch, I’ve accepted, is here to stay. It’s the wine, I know, two or three glasses a night, sometimes more.
I’ve just finished writing my memoir–three years in the making. I’m feeling retrospective, elegiac even. I’m remembering life before Ella and Owen. I’m imagining waking in a bright hotel room, wood floors gleaming in the light, wearing a short swimsuit, Karen asleep next to me—both of us free, for one daydream, of the omnipotent hold of our children.
I thought three years of writing about my life might teach me something about life. Perhaps. I’ve learned I need to love and feel loved by family and friends–that love is all that matters to me. I’m not sure this is a lesson. It feels like narcissism. Maybe saying that is narcissism. Perhaps I should own it.
I’m not especially ambitious, I’ve learned. I just want to be a good friend, a good son, a good brother, a good nephew, a good uncle, a good dad.
I want my wife, who turns thirty-eight tomorrow, to feel I love her a bit more than anything. I want to be a fabulous husband, though I often fail.
I hope to send my memoir out to the world, though I feel doubtful, just now, after three years of work. You see what I mean? I need people to love; to love me. For three years, I took as my working title a line suggested by my longtime mentor, friend, and boss, Mary Beth: “What is Wrong With Me.” After finishing, though, I’m feeling a bit different. “Lucky” feels right to me, now. I suppose that’s something I learned, too. However selfish the lesson, I’ve learned I’m lucky. I try to remember that. I try.
Originally posted on Facebook.