Tag Archives: Led Zeppelin

Good Times, Bad Times . . .

The Kids and their Dad

Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin from Led Zeppelin I

My daughter went through an experience that I told her was pretty much my whole life during high school.  She had multiple projects due, lots of homework, then she had the awful burden of trying to find someone that would go with her to the high school’s Sadie Hawkins dance.  She knew who she wanted to take, there was always that little bit of worry that someone else was going to get to him first.

I’ve been brutally honest about how hopeless I was as a kid.  I had crushes, I had no self confidence, and that combination is brutally painful to a kid whose body is raging with hormones flooding his head with emotions.  I’d dial a phone number to a girl and get through to the 6th number and find my finger hovering over the 7th, trying to will my hand to push the button.  Even when I did, I’d often hang up the phone before it would ring through to the girl’s phone.  When I could get a girl on the other line and ask her out I’d have used up all my energy getting the date and not know what to do for the date when we got there.  As a result, my immaturity and lack of confidence made for a hopeless mess.

I also took a physical toll, which my daughter felt a little of yesterday.  I’d get butterflies in my stomach.  I’d be fine one minute, then I’d think that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do and end up sick to my stomach.  I’d eat two bites of my lunch unable to eat more.  I lost weight – lots and lots of weight – because I just couldn’t eat.  Where my wife would eat because she was stressed, my daughter and I both go the other direction.  We forget to eat.  We refuse to do it.  It’s like our bodies reject the notion of nutrition in favor of acid reflux and bile for sustenance.

But here’s the difference.  Abbi has part of her mother in her.  She wasn’t hovering over a number.  She wasn’t nervous he’d say no, he was nervous she was too late to ask.  That’s the difference.  She was worried that someone swept in before her and asked the clueless boy – and he’s a boy, all teenage boys are clueless, it’s not a comment on the kid – before she could put her plan in motion.  She had cookies, a sign at the bottom of the plate, all of it cute, funny, and let’s face it . . . successful.

Andrea didn’t have some massive discussion or horrific lengthy analysis of my confidence level.  She just didn’t accept it.  I had the same experience with her Abbi did in school yesterday.  I wasn’t worried that she would say no (though I should  have, you’ve seen her picture, right?  I mean, look at me – look at her – who got the better end of that deal right?) I was worried someone else would be there before me.  There were those who came after I’d already asked her out and we started dating, but she didn’t go out with them.  She already saw something in me, something I was only just then beginning to see in myself.

Like I said, there was no analysis.  She just blew off my self-ridicule.  “Just wear this shirt and these pants,” she’d say.  She’d show up when I was getting my haircut and ask me if I wanted to change it.  It wasn’t re-making me without my approval, I wanted to change.  I just didn’t know how.  I asked her out.  I took her to dinner.  I took her to movies.  We went on drives together, we ultimately ended up in a crazy, insane weekend in the California Wine Country that I will never detail in words for you here, but was one of the most brilliant, adventurous, romantic and sexy group of days in my life.  She brought my self confidence to the fore, whether I needed it or not.

It’s a nice feeling to see my daughter happy.  We’ve had a rough ten months.  She’s had just as rough, taking on more responsibility, helping me with her siblings, worrying about college, wondering where to go, what to do, moving to a new school, getting used to the social responsibility of a coed universe . . . and all of that without your Mom there to help you deal with it.  I also adjust.  A year ago I’d have made the jokes, said I need to buy an unfinished guitar neck and meet the boy at the door and warn him his intentions need to be pure.  Now I support her and make sure the boys are sincere and worth her time.

All I can do now is give her, I hope, the tools to know how to read the road ahead.  The confidence to understand that it’s better, sometimes, to be alone than to be with the wrong person.  To know that, like her Dad, and her Grandparents, it’s better to find someone who loves a woman or man with a sense of humor, a lot of intelligence, and the right amount of panache to be confident with who you are, not what everyone else wants you to be.

I used to think that my refusal to conform, my staunch conviction to what I liked, what I listened to and what I wanted was driving people away, that people thought poorly of me because of it.  Only recently did I come to find from some of those same people that they admired me – if only a little – for it and never thought ill of me.  What makes me happiest is that Andrea made me realize it didn’t make a difference anyway.  I’d found the person who laughed with me and made me laugh.  Who had fun, who made me a better man.

Now I have to make sure that I send that same message to four little people looking to me for that inspiration.  It’s a tough mantle to carry, but for Andrea’s sake, I’m more than willing to try.

Then, as it was, then again it will be . . .

\”Ten Years Gone\”, by Led Zeppelin from the LP \”Physical Grafitti\”

I made the mistake of actually starting to sift through the phone that Andrea left behind.  Since the account was in her name, I didn’t want to disconnect the number.  On top of that, I still have one of those wonderful unlimited data plans that AT&T offered before they realized how little money they were making off it.  So I’ve kept both my phone, the contract and the account in her name so that it stays.

Before you accuse me of anything, I checked.  There’s nothing wrong with it, the way I’m doing things is perfectly legal, and the phone company doesn’t care as long as I keep paying the bill.  Which I do.  The only changes I’ve made are to eliminate the in-laws’ phone so that I’m not paying for it anymore.  I just can’t afford five phones.

You probably are expecting me to say I saw some video or heard her voice and it just tore me up, leaving me in a puddle in the corner.

But it’s actually the fact that I didn’t find those things that has me so upset.

I sifted through the phone, being as thorough as I could.  I went through the pictures and found some amazing, fun, beautiful pictures of my kids.  There was Abbi at her first dance, her hair made up and flowing behind her, the highlights giving her just enough blonde and curl that she looked like she had this thick mane of hair.  Her mother helped put on the makeup so she looked gorgeous.  It filled me with pride and scared the hell out of me simultaneously.  There was a picture of the boys soaking wet, at a water park, the smiles plastered on their faces so wide it’s like their cheeks are going to burst.

It’s what is not there that bothers me.

There were no pictures of Andrea.  I didn’t hear a single voicemail or recording that had her voice.  I was dreading it, but part of me was hoping that the audio was there or a picture of her with the kids.  It is a strange set of emotions I sift through in dealing with Andrea being gone.  I simultaneously hate seeing and hearing things with her in them and yet I revel in the pain and let it wash over me.  I know it makes no sense, but the fact that I hurt that badly – that I feel that much makes me realize I’m feeling something.  It’s like if the pain starts to fade, there are pieces of Andrea that go with it.  I hate how I feel but I grasp at those pinpricks so I can remember her and not watch her fade from our lives.

Then I looked through the text messages.  The messages were full of the mundane: we need decongestant; can you pick up some cheddar for enchiladas on the way home?; how did your hearing go?  The messages were a snapshot of the last few weeks of her life and there was something major missing in every single one of them.  I never ended any of the text messages saying “I love you.”  It’s three simple words.  They are easy to type, they’re not something you can easily forget, but somehow, to a message, those three words were missing from every single one.

We get in such a hurry.  Hell, even text speak . . . even “luv u” would have been better.  But to see that I forgot to put it in words?  The mundane shouldn’t overtake reality.  We were past ten years gone.  We held on, we were so proud of the fact that we’d made it and were turning back around.  So why, in every single text, did I forget to say it?

After my father had a heart attack I told myself that there was no way I’d leave a conversation with him, my Mom, none of them without saying I loved them.

So how can I have forgotten that?  What the hell was wrong with me?

Look, I did say it at the end of every conversation with her.  I did tell her I loved her, but I also don’t want her to spend the rest of eternity wondering if I’d said it simply as a throwaway statement.  It’s really hard for me to grasp the fact that she may have been gone before I told her that last time.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the plan and path we wanted to travel have to be completely re-mapped.  The direction was completely different with her helping to navigate.

But now I have to navigate again, alone, while driving.  Sure, I have the kids, but as the line above, when another ten years have gone, it’s back to me.  The kids should live their lives knowing they have divergent paths.  Tangential stories.  They are staring at the empty pages, but have ideas and thoughts to fill them with.  Mine is like I started the novel and couldn’t find a way to end it.  At least right now.

I know that eventually I’ll realize that the story ended and another began.  The problem is, it’s hard to let that plot go.  I was engaged, I was invested in the direction and the story.  It’s like the movie with an unsatisfactory ending.

I wish I could say I have comfort in thinking I might see her again, but I am left to write the story without her.  Like a kid complaining about having to do their homework, I’m having a really hard time pulling away from it.  I know I have to do this alone, but there’s still part of me – the part that revels in the pain of seeing and hearing Andrea – that won’t let go.  I know it’s the reality, and the daily routine moves on without her and I appreciate how amazing my kids are in dealing with life without their Mom.

We’re slowly moving forward on the road – positive momentum.

I wish it wasn’t the case, that there was some miraculous way we could see the story keep going, but then as it was, then again it will be.  All I can do is feel the pangs in her beautiful smile where my heart used to skip a beat.  I did it before, I just wish I didn’t have to again.