Today was was one of those days of clear and clean duality- no shades of grey, just stark black and white.
My baby turned 6 months today! I used to scoff at people who measured their kids’ lives in weeks and months, before I knew anything. The journey from day 1 to 6 months is overwhelmingly amazing, and honestly those words are just hollow trinkets compared to how it feels to live it. This kid came here as a small creature from another plane of existence and now he watches Elmo and laughs and drinks from cups. This kid is huge. He’s advanced. He’s nearly always smiling. He’s also always happy to see me, of all things, which hits me like a steamroller meeting a Fabergé egg.
So that was wave 1. Marveling at my son. At his growth, his spirit, his whole deal. It’s instant perspective on…everything. The things that I felt were bullshit and trivial before? Incinerated into distant specs of dust now. It’s very primal. Very Lone Wolf and Cub. I’ll strap this kid to my chest and battle 500 samurai. Your emails no longer scare me.
Wave 2 was this stupid mother-[expletive] pandemic. I’ve been living day-to-day. The kid helps a ton, actually. Obviously my wife and I didn’t plan on global collapse upon the birth of our child, but you win some and you lose some. We have a roof over our head (100 year old slate, but it’s holding). Food in the cabinets (thanks Instacart). Digital screens a-plenty. Way too many books. A grill. Each other. We’re so lucky. We’re so grateful.
But man, today it hit me. 6 months of “thisisfine.gif” purged like a hairball and slamming my soul with the force of a thousand doomsday chyron headlines.
In part, it’s because things have not gotten better here in the good ol’ US of A. We’re at condition: beet red, but good luck saying anything to anyone about it, because somehow this virus is a political issue. Somehow wearing a mask is an affront to Thomas Jefferson, and blah blah blah the same stupid story of this broken society for like the last 30 years. It’s all profoundly, deeply stupid. The virus confirms all the lingering suspicions I’ve had with the subtlety of a lightning bolt- this place is majorly fucked up.
Before you call the authorities and report me as a miscreant communist hellbent on transforming our land of freedom into the hellscape that is Norway, let me share that I am pretty damn American. Literally no other country on the planet knows how to do breakfast like we do. Nowhere. I’m not being sarcastic. We’ve cracked the code on that sum-bitch. Try doing 4 hours in the Museo de Prado when you’ve had a slice of cheese and 3 grapes to start the day. And then there’s coffee- drip coffee is an anomaly outside these shores. Everywhere else it’s burnt-ass espresso mixed and skewed and topped with foam with wafers stuck in it. Anyways. I could go on. Mostly about food. I’ll close by saying my first comic was Captain America. I want to believe.
All that makes the dismay, and the hurt, that much worse. It would be a lot easier if I hated this place. If I wanted to live somewhere else. But I don’t. I like it here. I might even love it. But Lord Almighty, what the fuck is going on here?
We’ve gone straight through the looking glass into lala land and the big grins on the anti-existence gangsters are terrifying. Pearly-white harbingers of doom that strike fear with every flashbulb glint. And those black sharky little eyes. These people never blink. Watch them. They never blink.
I don’t give a shit who you vote for or what you believe. I’d just prefer not to catch the death-flu 3000 and keel over before getting to spend quality time with my newborn son playing Super Mario Bros. and watching basketball games.
So yeah, the wave of the collective insanity of this place I call home really hit today. It hit as I looked into those bright blue eyes of this boy who just loves to smile at me, smile at the groundhogs outside, the muppets on TV, his beautiful mama, the birds on the patio, and just about everything in-between. If saying time out on all of us going to Applebee’s for a few months to sort this out makes me some kind of radical, then so be it.
I don’t want to live forever, and I sure as hell don’t want to live in fear. But there’s a huge difference between overreacting to a hyped up threat and, like, simply stepping inside when a tornado is coming. But alas. The arguments.
Everyone’s an expert now, of course. We’re all armed with the latest primo memes, the choicest intelligence briefings provided by flicks through Twitter or disjointed paragraphs on Facebook. A sassy statement paired with a Minion picture? Now we’re talking. Take that, Socrates.
At some point about hundred years ago, my ancestors licked their index fingers and held them aloft to the sky with feet firmly placed on the ground in the bowels of Eastern Europe. They didn’t like the way the wind felt then, and they hauled their entire existence across the globe to work in zinc mines and delis and god knows what else. Somehow, they made that call. There’s no evidence they disliked their homes or were anti-Russian or anti-Czech or anti-Austrian.
I think a lot about that choice. That day. It was a moment, you know? What did my great-grandfather have for breakfast on the day he decided he had to go- the jig was up. “I gotta leave,” he thought, in Russian.
What a choice to have to make. What a conclusion to land on. Solid as a slab of granite. To me, that’s no casual thing. I’m a homebody. The thought of going to a grocery store in a different zip code gives me palpitations. So I’m fascinated by this- that my entire genetic line jump on ships and left it all behind, forever.
I look at my son and it all starts to makes some more sense. That’s why they did it. Their families, and the future- which somehow leads to me, you, us. We don’t listen to our ancestors enough in the West. We’re quick to reinvent each generation. But they’re right there waiting to tell us “Watch your step, that tripped me up too.”
The canaries are squawking and feathers are flying out of the cages. It’s getting real tough to ignore, although the incessant nightly fireworks going off in the streets has almost been a distraction.
The kid crosses the halfway mark, and tomorrow he begins the march to the big 1 year-old milestone. It’s impossible to predict what will be going on outside our door six months from now. I don’t even know what to expect six hours from now. But I just want him to have a place where he can laugh, and smile, and maybe get a decent breakfast. Dare to keep the dream alive.