Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary

I have known her since I was 6 and him since I was 12. And they are celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary today. Wow.

I remember receiving their wedding invitation. I was living with three other guys while I was taking my Masters Degree. I had just started to date my then future ex wife. As I lived in Washington DC and they in Rhode Island I did not even know that they had been dating. I do remember thinking that they were a good match. And now, 18 years later, it would seem that they are indeed a good match.

Despite my seeing them only sporadically over the years the impression I have of them is that they are good friends. This impression has been borne out by a few mutual friends who are closer to them than I. They both know how to have fun, know how to take a joke, and have an advanced sense of the absurd. Looking back I think these attributes prepared them well for a life together.

For those of us for whom four months represents a long term relationship, my friends offer the possibility that having a lifetime partnership with someone is possible. Moreover, they offer multiple reasons as to why the idea of a life long relationship ought not be greeted with jaded cynicism but....well...maybe not with hope but at least with an open mind.

Happy Anniversary.

Friday, October 23, 2009

With My Morning Coffee

I can tell you right now that this post could get me into a lot of trouble is the only thing that can happen when you let your mind wander without a leash.

People who tell you that you can tell them anything are usually the people you can't.

Lurking in the back of my refrigerator are new forms of life that evolved from the primordial ooze created in a long forgotten container of beef gravy.

Any day where you wake up on the right side of the dirt is a good day....most of the time....usually....sometimes....ok....any two days out of five where you wake up on the right side of the dirt is a good day...unless its raining then stay in bed.

I am told that its typical for parents to eagerly anticipate a quiet house when the kids are around and miss them once they are gone.

Following the example of a former girlfriend and current Facebook friend I went for a bike ride this morning. She told me I would feel great afterwards. I don't. No wonder we found that we were incompatible.

Melvern Taylor makes me hopeful and depresses the hell out of me all at the same time. It must be the ukulele.

You can put new wine into new skins... and I imagine you can put old wine in new skins...but I wonder if you can put new wine in old skins...

My son's Facebook page is worrying me....actually that I am faced with a whole new set of parenting issues is what's worrying me.

You know you have reached a certain age when you find yourself standing around a camp fire drinking beer with several other dads comparing colorectal surgery experiences.

Being a single dad can put you in certain odd situations. I found myself standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store exchanging tips with three other dads who were stocking up for their weekends with their kids. I was able to spot these guys from the other side of the store as we stand out from the rest of the heard. After shooting the breeze with them for several minutes it was clear to me as to why I am more comfortable with moms as I don't feel nearly as lost and confused as many single dads appear.

Note to self; never run out of light cream again as my coffee sucks with 1 percent milk in it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

His 15th Birthday

I am in the middle of what I think of as the birthday/holiday season. From September to January I will have celebrated or have helped celebrate the birthdays of seven of my eight favorite people. Needless to say that with the holidays thrown in for good measure this is a busy time of year.

But not all birthdays need to be overblown events...the other night one of my best friends and I quietly celebrated his birthday. I decided to make him his favorite meal...hamburgers with potatoes. Its an easy meal to make, taking only twenty minutes. As I had a long day and that I knew that he was going to eat his special meal in one gulp I was tempted to go to the store and get something in a can for him...but...I thought...he had been a great friend to me this year and deserved something special.

So...dinner was made and it was consumed in one or two gulps before I could finish a chorus of Happy Birthday. My friend Joey is 15.

I hesitate to refer to him as my dog as I belong to him as much as he belongs to me. I know a lot of people think I am silly for feeling so passionately about an animal. In response I have decided not to take them or their views on the subject very seriously. I have found that a great test of someone's character is the ability to understand the bond that can develop between a man and his four legged companion.

After a close call earlier in this year my old friend is in fairly good health. His legs bother him and stairs are becoming more of a challenge. We no longer go for long walks. But each day I try to spend some time with him outside. I watch him sniff the bushes and the grass. He experiences each moment without a thought about the future and his lives a life without regret. While I know Joey and I are wired differently I have done my best to emulate him. I no longer mourn what we can no longer do together nor do I live in dread of that very sad, very inevitable day.

Today we sat together in the sun, happy and content.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bits And Pieces Left Along The Way

Oliver called me this morning. He had a problem and wanted my help. He had left a favorite sweatshirt at the home of a friend with whom he had a falling out. He wanted me to call this kid's mom and arrange an exchange of property; his former friend's football for my son's sweatshirt. I told him we should wait three days (to see if he could mend some fences) and then I would call the mom.

As I drink my morning coffee and try to plan out my day I find myself thinking about Oliver's problem. While he wanted his sweatshirt back I am sure that he was also a little distressed about leaving something something of himself behind and having something belonging to his former friend in his possession. Or maybe I am projecting the thoughts I have been wrestling with over the last several weeks as I drink from a coffee cup that does not belong to me while sitting under a painting left behind by a former girl friend a lifetime ago.

Tee shirts, sweatshirts, footballs, books, and umbrellas, hell...I even know of someone who has a box of my stuff waiting to be handed back to me on some fateful day...these are the bits and pieces of ourselves that we casually exchange along the way. We never intend to permanently give these items away, instead we lend them out, blithely intending to have the exchange of these trivial items continue indefinitely into the future. We also exchange less tangible, more important items along the way, such as affection, caring, concern, and friendship. These are also pieces of ourselves that we leave along the way.

This afternoon I am going to encourage Oliver to make up with his friend. Twelve is too young to learn the hard fact that not all friendships last and that sometimes we have to leave pieces of ourselves behind.

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Heat

Yesterday took forever to end and was compounded by the fact that it was raw, wet, and cold. A typical steel gray New England day. I was looking forward to my warm apartment, a nice dinner, and hanging out with Joey and Spot. And then I got home.

I noticed that the apartment was colder than usual. Yes...I do keep the thermostat down fairly low...but not to the point where you can see your breath. I tinkered with the heat and while I got the fan going I had no heat. No freaking heat. Tommy was not happy.

I called the landlord and was politely told that I would have to wait until the morning to get this addressed. I decided to reserve my ire for some future grievance as while having no heat for a night was inconvenient and uncomfortable, staying in a 57 degree apartment for one night was not the end of the world.

This has been a year of making do. Emotionally, physically, and financially. While my tenuous morale could have taken another blow last night as I sat in my chilly apartment, I decided that this was simply another challenge to overcome. As I write this this morning, while wearing three sweatshirts, I came to the conclusion that the lesson I needed to learn from this year were that perseverance and fortitude are virtues I needed to practice and that cunning and guile, which have served me well, can only take me so far. However, I think cunning and guile are what is called for to get my landlord here to fix the heat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Dad's Day

There are days when all things seem possible...and then there are others when being able to make it through the day feels like a heroic achievement. And there are other days that are a mixture of the aforementioned...this was one of those days.

Wednesdays is one of the days of the week where I have my kids so rather than easing into the day as is my preference I need to hit the ground running. After a breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, and hot chocolate I dropped the kids off at school...yes...I did come to a complete stop before kicking them out of the car.

I worked until about 6:00...picked up the kids at their mom's and then back home for dinner (homemade soup and grilled cheese sandwiches), homework, squabbling kids, and my dog going number two on my carpet. Three loads of laundry later, one closed loan, a lousy movie, I found myself in a less than sunny mood.

I suppose more than anything else I am tired. And of all the things I am tired of I am tired of putting one foot in front of another. While there are sunny spots....breakfast with my kids was one of them....watching Ollie at practice was another...lately the burdens of parenthood seem to weight heavily.

On the bright side I renewed a dormant friendship and got some good advice that somehow made things a bit easier. My friend reminded me that life is supposed to be hard. And then there are times that are harder than others. Accepting this somehow makes it easier.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I just got done watching the Longest Day. This movie, which is about the D-Day Landings, got me thinking about my grandfather. Grandpa was not at D-Day, his big fight was at the Battle of The Bulge, but nevertheless the movie got my thinking about him.

While I always knew that my grandfather and I had a special relationship, that I always enjoyed being with him whether it was watching the Red Sox with him or sharing the newspaper, I never quite understood the bond I had with him. Now I know...I felt safe with him. I felt safe with Grandpa because, I think, I got unconditional love and acceptance from him. His house, with its smells, its sounds, and my grandmother's cooking, was a haven for me.

Sitting here, in my chair, in my home, I realize that there are lives where I play the same role that my grandfather played in mine. Whereas grandpa shared his appreciation of baseball with me which engendered that feeling of safety, I share food. I have learned that homefries can be every bit as effective as the Red Sox as a means to convey a feeling of safety and acceptance and affection.

It is a basic, almost primal desire, the need to feel safe. It was easy for me to experience this with my grandfather because....afterall...he was my grandfather...however...I know that to be able to count on something or someone for that feeling takes a leap of courage and of faith. While this is a leap I have yet to make I know that others have come to count on me to fulfill this most basic of needs.

There is a place, that I visit as a guest, which reminds me of my grandparent's home. The smells and sounds and the company are very different, however, the feeling I have when I am there is much like I had at my grandparents when I was a boy. I think this is why its my favorite place in the world.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Imagining I am in my favorite place my mind's ear hears that magic word being softly whispered with a sense of urgency that is both startling and reassuring. Coffee....

My morning ritual centers around the coffee pot (or espresso machine), my coffee cup, and the morning paper (albeit the online version). So I wasn't very happy this morning to wake up to realize that I only had enough beans left for a double espresso. While packing the punch of three cups of coffee, an espresso somehow lacks the ability to comfort that coffee possesses.

Coffee is not just merely starter fluid for the day. Its a coping strategy. Much like a fire, its something hot, and comforting, and when enjoyed with friends, provides a primal sense of something important being shared.

Whether its in a white mug with a blue stripe served with half and half and sugar, or in a Dunkin Donuts styrofoam cup, or in my own favorite Christmas mug with a broken handle, my morning cup comforts, reassures, and braces me for the day ahead.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Waiting At Home

I spent much of the weekend away from home riding a roller coaster. Like any roller coaster worthy of the name, this weekend's ups and downs came in rapid succession. I am still tying to catch my breath.

After my roller coaster crashed I went home and greeting me at my door were Joey and Spot. After feeding them (my kids looked in on them during the weekend) I took Joey outside and we sat in the grass together...with his head resting in my lap.

Change is one of life's constants. Situations change, careers are switched, people come and people go...but Joey has been a constant to the point where I have almost fooled myself into thinking that he will be with me forever. His friendship as seen me through more changes than I really care to think about.

We have been together for almost fifteen years and I love Joey more than I do most people. Our affection and loyalty to one another is something I rely upon too much, however, our relationship is something that has proven itself able to be relied upon.