I just wanted to wish everybody a Happy Fourth of July. My newborn son arrived home from the ICU a week and a half ago, and I haven't had much time to post, especially given the thoughtful, meticulous and manifestly obsessive/compulsive way I draft these epistles to you, my dear readers. But just because I haven't written much down on the subject of my son's arrival doesn't mean I have nothing to say. So I'll just describe it in one word: It's the aleph. It feels like life has started again. It's magical, tiring, infuriating and frightening being a dad. Every day I worry that I'll do something stupid and accidentally kill him, and then get my strength back when I see that he is indeed alive and breathing and happy. I'm also in love in many ways I never thought I could be. Now I know why people feel compelled to look at pictures of their children--even if the children are standing right next to them. Now I know what it's like to feel like you love someone so much it hurts. Even when he is vomiting and peeing all over you.
There's a beautiful line at the end of "Bright Lights, Big City" (a book that has been called overrated so often that everybody has seriously underrated it) in which the protagonist, having suffered a life of bohemian dissolution, realizes he's going to have to learn to live all over again. I think of being a dad the same way. There are lessons and ideas and things passed on to me by my parents that I took for granted, that have become so ingrained you forgot they were important. Now I have to deconstruct myself and rebuild and share what I know, making sure not to skip the important parts. I'll have to teach my boy how to live in a moral universe and somehow re-attack the paradoxes and dilemmas and ironies that made the journey frustrating, distressing and sometimes heart-breaking. I'll have to tell him how to love completely, and then at the same time, someday, be able to let him go.
The journey begins.