27 June 2007

On (In) the planes again

On the planes again, this time to Ithaca for older child’s orientation. Of course, it is absurd to refer to Emma as ‘older child;’ she is eighteen and about to leave home for college. She is not a child, but she is my child. We never quite stop being children to our parents (unless perhaps at their deaths), and we never stop being parents to our children. My concerns and worries will never go away, though the particulars of the concerns might change with time. But right now I am saddened that she will be leaving the home. We who remain at home will have to redirect our energies now.
At college orientations (at least at this one), there is very little of substance for adults to do. Which is not to say that the offices do not plan activities, but that they are time-fill. The students must be there, and someone must deliver them to the college, and so the college must provide activities for the parents. I was not in the least interested in touring the campus, or sitting through meeting after meeting on a lovely Summer’s day. So, of course, I headed right into the movies where the air conditioner was set too high. Saw A Mighty Heart, the story of the search for Daniel Pearl after his kidnapping. Interesting to me that the film is being advertised as a tour de force for Angelina Jolie, but that wasn’t my impression at all. I thought the film depicted the helplessness of the United States power to do anything to effect the release of Pearl, or to find him when his release was not imminent. The chaos of Pakistan was as much a major character as Angelina Jolie.

17 June 2007

I remember more than a few breakfasts when I was a child. When the toast was put on the table at breakfast, my father would always choose the burnt pieces and exclaim, “I love burnt toast.” We thought he was crazy. Ah, maybe he was.
But I have had children for eighteen years now, and I have learned to love burnt toast. Often, it was the only pieces left on the plate, but there became something, well, something tasty about the crisp, blackened bread no one anymore desired.
I know one way fathers get fat. They eat whatever is left over on the children’s plate. My daughter and her friend were making smoothies, and they used only half a container of yoghurt—I ate the remainder. They made more than either wanted, and I finished what remained in the blender. I can’t ethically throw the food away, and too much of it I eat. Lately I have taken to feeding all manner of animals outside our back porch. Word has gotten out: there is a small community of crows and raccoons and rabbits growing quite chubby out back. Personally, I just can’t run any more miles in the attempt to avoid more weight.
I’ve loved being a father to my children. I can’t define why, because nothing but loving them has come easy. Perhaps this is why: the other night we were watching the television, and a commercial for a new Stouffers product came on the screen. It asked, “Who makes a really tasty, fresh Panini whenever you want?” and Anna Rose piped up cheerfully, “My dad!”
Happy father’s day to me. And to my dad whom I miss today.

07 June 2007

No, there ain't nothing wrong . . .

The sound track for my run yesterday included the Grateful Dead song, “Scarlet Begonias.” Gosh, I’ve always loved that song, but yesterday it seemed especially relevant.
They sing:
Well there ain’t nothing wrong with the way she moves
Or Scarlet Begonias or a touch of the blues
And there ain’t nothing wrong with the love that’s in her eye
I had to learn the hard way/to let her pass by . . .
You see, for me this is a song not about regret, but about freedom. Ah, she was free to look at him in whatever way she desired, and he was free to interpret her look and think it was for him. But his thought didn’t determine hers, and his desire didn’t obligate her. There was nothing wrong with his desire, but there was also nothing wrong with the look in her eye either. And there’s nothing wrong with scarlet begonias, or feeling blue: it’s all experience. Or as Dylan says, “It’s life and life only!”

“Sometimes you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”