Just your standard storytelling blog, today: trying to keep track of the big events in HG's life and their impact on how KG and I live.
It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I'm sitting in the airport in Tucson trying not to fall asleep. Our flight to LA has been significantly delayed by, of all wildly unlikely things, impenetrable fog at LAX. (I can't remember the last time I even saw fog in LA.) Both KG and the baby are out cold. I've got my ears peeled, hoping to catch some kind of update regarding our flight.
To give you some background, every year KG and I travel to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with her mom. Unlike virtually everyone else in the world, I actually enjoy vacationing at my mother in-law's. Sandra's a sweet, funny lady and she and her husband Joe are forever as nice and generous as can be. KG's brother Bob also makes the annual Thanksgiving trek and - not to sound too sunshiney about everything - I like him as well. If he lived nearby to us, I'd try to strike up a friendship for sure.
This year, however, we had Henry with us, so I was feeling a little high-strung about the whole thing. I hate to identify myself as this kind of person, but traveling with the baby totally stresses me out. Even when everything goes well (which, by and large, it did), I worry about each new circumstance, that we won't be prepared or we'll have forgotten something essential, things like that.
Anyway, this year Sandra and Joe booked us a hotel rather than put us up at their place, which had been the custom during the pre-Henry era. It was a good call and saved everyone a ton of hassle, though KG and I did have the bad luck to be put in a room opposite a dance club. We woke up night after night to the sound of young, drunk, hyper-stylish people hooting to one another and honking their horns right beneath our window. Insert your own cranky old-person statement here.
On a completely different note, another of the trip's interesting moments came when Bob, Joe and I found ourselves hanging out alone one evening in the living room. Somehow the course of the conversation lead me to mention that becoming a father had turned my attention to the future more than ever. Prior to Henry's arrival, I was just naturally more inclined to remain in the present, plus it was something I actively cultivated. Now it seems like every other thought I have is about what Henry's gonna be. Bob, who's got a three year old daughter - cute little Ana - picked up on the theme and added his own insights. As I listened to him, he seemed less a brother-in-law and more like someone who could tip me off to what the next few years of parenthood might bring. Joe then interjected to say that he's at a point where parenthood leads him to look to the past, things done well, mistakes made, both. It was so open of him. The whole conversation was such a gift and I must admit that the sentimentalist in me couldn't help but warmly embrace the bunch-of-dads-sharing-wisdom angle.
Our trip had one other vital story-line for me. Just as KG and I were leaving for Tucson, I received an email from the artistic director of a summer Shakespeare company I'd recently contacted about an audition. In his message he'd said he had no plans to come out to the west coast, but asked if I could send him something on film. The upshot is that I spent a good chunk of the trip alone in our hotel room, rehearsing my pieces and trying to capture them on film.
(KG's Aunt Johnnie did yeoman's work running lines with me and proved to be an excellent interpreter of the text. She particularly liked the line, "Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels." Insert your own "sleep with Turks" joke here.)
For those of you who know me well, you can imagine how crazy I became trying put together the video. Filming a theatre audition can be harrowing. Invariably, you end up watching yourself do take after take after take, nearly all of which contain some embarrassingly fatal flaw. By the time you finally pull off a performance that doesn't make you absolutely cringe, your ability to view yourself objectively has been completely decimated. I pretty much began to lose my mind. At some point in the midst of all this, I spoke to KG on the phone sounding, I'm sure, like one of those monks that flagellate themselves with horsehair. Later she told me that when she'd hung up the phone she'd thought to herself, "Well, there goes my husband - doing what he loves to do." In the end I did, of course, settle on something to submit to the guy. We'll see if it bears any fruit.
What has all this got to do with my baby blog? Not much, I suppose. Mostly, it's just what I was up to during his first Thanksgiving. And I suppose also that it speaks to issues of identity that have arisen for me since HG was born.
In fact, I want to deviate a bit and finish there: One of my big fears about fatherhood all along has been that being a good father and a serious artist might be, at least to some degree, incompatible. Truth be told, I've already limited my creative pursuits about as much as I can stand. What I keep telling myself is that the strictest limitations will only last a couple years... at most. But if I'm honest, I have to admit that I'm afraid - afraid of losing a vital aspect of myself. I wish I could sit here and tell you I'm solid as a rock, but the fact is I'm continually working it out. Deep down I have faith I'll find a way to make my artistic life and parenthood coexist. Still, it doesn't prevent me from worrying my way through a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.