This Anniversary Better Be “Barf”

It’s strange, when we asked our doctor about Barnaby’s drool, he gave a half smile and said, “put a bib on him”. For almost all the problems that a baby can have, the solutions are pretty much that simple. There’s no way to expect more, and you just have to treat the symptoms because the problems just take growth to go away.

If you’re worried about your baby crying too much or drooling or not sleeping, you may as well complain about her height or weight, this stuff will only change with time. And it’s a terrible and wonderful realization. When you say to yourself, “I am supposed to shape this mountain, and all I have is a water gun” it can be awful, but when you look at the rivers slicing through mountains, it’s breath-taking to comprehend how much can be accomplished with tiny steps and perseverance.

When you have a child, that dichotomy is always right in front of your mind. You look at your baby and know that you’re holding the water gun and he’s the mountain, but then you look at yourself and you know that you’re the river, already having made your mark on the mountain. You carry with you the giant divot of your life, the depression in the stone where you’ve been dragging yourself for thousands of miles.


When I think back to three years ago, I don’t feel like I was a lot younger then, and I don’t feel older or wiser now. I feel like the guy I am now was already pretty deeply in the works by then, and the difference between me now and me then is that now I’ve sluffed off a lot of the crappy stuff. I’m a lot simpler now than I was then, and that’s weird because my life is certainly a lot more complicated.

I should say that three years ago, I spent a lot of time being breathlessly thankful that I was not who I was five years before that. Even after Jordana and I got married, there was this sense I had that this could all be taken away from me at any moment, or even that I could walk away, disappear, and nobody would be too deeply distraught.

Combined with this was a pathological regret. I would spend time basically every day wondering how I would have done it differently, reworking the moments of every intersection of my life. I kept trying to figure out where I would steer my life if I could go back, what moment would be the perfect moment to stop the litany of mistakes and missteps, which fork in the road would have changed everything.

And always, it was about her. Every daydream was focused on how to get back to her, to these moments. Every fork would take me off in one direction, knowing that, when she got back from Cincinatti, I had to be there to lay down my plot.

In these fantasies, I focused more on my career and far less on fucking the vapid. My sister always teased me about the “blowing skirts of ladies who promise to gather you to their breast”, and she was totally right. I always hungered for the disgusting fruit of poisoned trees, and I don’t know why. Y’know how over-ripe fruit is basically all sugar? It took me forever to figure out it would make you sick.

In these fantasies, I showed up in New York, on the crest of a brilliant career wave, with tons of money, so I could just be like, “Come on, come with me, don’t worry about anything.” I mean, the little changes and switches were infinite, depending on how far back I could go. Sometimes, I would go all the way back to high school, and bide my time working until I could go to Carolina, alone, and when I saw her there I’d just be *awesome*.

I’d show up with “Atlas Shrugged” memorized. I’d have converted to Judaism…

It was insane, the permutations. Always about her, always about finding a way of being the better man once I met her. And always about showing up to offer her a man who wasn’t mostly destroyed, but rather a man who could lift her up on my shoulders, who could be for her what she has always been for me.

It’s only when I look back that I realize that I no longer do this. It didn’t go away with a bang, it faded like a whimper, like the friendships I had had with those people who weren’t worth being friends with. The regret I had, the obsession with what points I could have gone back to in order to save the time I wasted… this wasn’t a casual thing, this was a *daily* thing. Sometimes I would sit in the dark for hours, not sleeping, fantasizing about pulling a “Somewhere In Time”, only I’d make sure to empty my pockets of change.

Now I know why I didn’t meet her as a whole man. I know why I couldn’t put her on my shoulders. It’s because I was never going to be the man who could carry her without her. I couldn’t show up to save her because she is my salvation.

She’s the river, and I’m the mountain.

So, now we have this baby, this little mountain, and suddenly I know who I am, and I think with terror of how I tried to hard to go back and change things. If one little thing had been different, would we be here now? Would that sweet baby boy be here? With her eyes and her smile set on my cheeks and my chest?

If I went back now… I’d try so hard to remember to do everything *exactly* the same. Maybe I’d invest in a couple of stocks, bet on some basketball game long shots (I bet Houston in ’95 would have gotten you a pretty good return) but I’d do everything I could to make sure I ended up right here, right now, waiting for Jordana to get home from work, watching Barnaby play with his toys. Every mistake, every painful awful moment was worth getting to someday be married to her. To live in New York, married to Jordana and to have little Barnaby… it’s more than I could have ever hoped for.

At the time, when I asked her to marry me, I think I paraphrased Chaim Potok and said something to the effect of “this is a thing about which one should either say a lot or very little, and I’m going with the latter”. Now that I’ve written this, I feel like I’ve said way too much for a public blog, but… I mean, that’s never stopped me before.