Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Culture Club

As we drove slowly down the driveway this morning, Carrie glanced over at me and said, "Wow. Last night was amazing."
"It really was," I agreed, smiling back at her and reminiscing. I felt relaxed, upbeat, and ready to take on the world and I knew Carrie felt the same way.
"Remember when we used to say that about sex?" she added.
"What's sex?" I joked, trying to remember if it really compared with the long and deep sleep we'd both enjoyed.

I remember a vacation in Greece when I was lying beneath a cloudless sky, staring out at the Mediterranean as a gentle breeze rippled across the calm afternoon sea. The day felt bright and colorful, surreal - almost psychedelic. I realized that I'd spent so much time that summer drinking and getting high on that summer that this crisp moment of sobriety felt like an altered state of consciousness. That is exactly what sleep feels like now - novel and intoxicating. I feel energized, capable, optimistic, and confident. I feel like I did five months ago.

It's remarkable how quickly a child has changed my pleasures, my priorities, my focus, my depth, and my tolerance. Chores that were once meditative and satisfying have become an exciting challenge, a relay race against wind-up toys, singing bears, and mobiles. I'm still waiting to find a toy that actually has settings like "Dishes, Laundry, Phone Call, Temporary Nervous Breakdown," and so on. Even if it had the seemingly compulsory seizure lights and annoying music, I would still buy it. While exercise used to be a part of my regular routine, I now have to incorporate it into play time. I dance around Amari doing Tae Bo-like moves and making the craziest faces my oxygen deprivation will allow. I'm now convinced Amari's first word will be "Jab-cross," or "Hook-uppercut."

In an attempt to retain some semblance of normalcy, Carrie suggested we take Amari to her first play last Sunday - the local high school drama club's rendition of "Little Shop of Horrors." We decided it would be our first attempt at infusing some culture into her life while raising her in this isolated, coastal hamlet. We invited everyone we knew who had kids, hoping that at least one of them would foolishly join us for the potential disaster. Not a single taker - I guess they knew better - but Carrie and I were determined to go and were convinced Amari would be fine. As it turns out, she was fine - and adorable - and if we'd stayed for the whole show I'm pretty sure she would have been up on stage singing with the Doo Whop Girls.

The show was long and a little bit out of Amari's perceptual range. The lights and singing entertained her through most of the first act, but at a few minutes after two she glanced at her watch, then up at me and said, "Dad, the Baylor-Duke game just started. You wanna get out of here?" She is so sensitive to my passion for college basketball and my novice gambling habits.
"Absolutely," I said, and she immediately started fidgeting and whining to the point where I said to Carrie, "I think Amari's had enough," and we escaped at the intermission.

Unfortunately, on this particular evening, I've had enough, too. My energy has faded, taking with it some of the optimism and confidence. If I go to sleep now while Amari's sleeping - as I've been told to do by every parent I've met - perhaps they will both return to me in the morning.Good night all.

Happy April, Amari.

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