Right now there’s only the idea of you, but I first decided that I wanted you in my life before I even met your Papa. It was in grad school, I was at the library on a cold night, chilly and miserable and listening to MP3s when Weezer’s “My Name is Jonas” came on and it hit me that I wanted to be a father. I really wish I could describe something beautiful and poetic about the moment, imply that time just seemed to stop, and I did know it was an important moment otherwise I wouldn’t remember how rough and scratchy the damned couches were and that the wooden armrest was hard and unpadded and felt like it was cutting all circulation to my kidney. But know I’ve been chasing the idea of you since then, and you’ve always been tumbling around here and there, always a consideration, because if you ever feel like going through your Dad’s old blog entries for whatever reason you’ll read this and know you were wanted. Hell, I even had your name picked out that night, a strong name that would grow with you as you grew up, because I want you to be strong. Life’s going to throw a fair bit of shit at you, and a person should be able to stand up afterward and still do the right thing. Anything else I tell you is going to sound obvious, but it’s hard-won advice that took a while to really sink in with me.
There’s a good chance I don’t talk about my father much, but if you read my books, you’ll likely notice the common trend of absentee fathers, so you probably were able to fill in some of the blanks on your own. Long story short, he walked out, skipped out on child support, and didn’t try to make amends until the year he died. I didn’t cry at his funeral, it was a while before I could cry about anything, really. I dated some guys before I met your Papa that were… Well, I dated liars, manipulators, and guys with one foot out the door. So yeah, I pretty much dated my Dad. It’s a common thing, I’ve found, so I can only pray I don’t screw you up too badly that it takes you a decade or so of soul-searching to find someone decent and good.
And yeah, that’s about how long it took me.
I’ve never been a spiritual person, I must admit, but I did have one spiritual experience where I received a bit of advice. There’s a good chance it was just my subconscious finally being blunt with me, or maybe something otherworldly decided to do me a solid, but the story is simple: I was working a crappy temp job, typing rejection forms for an insurance company in the wake of a break-up, and while on a short break to head to the men’s room, I heard a voice say, “What’s wrong?” Without thinking, I replied, “I’m not happy.” The voice didn’t miss a beat, scoffed, and said, “You wanna be happy? Stop dating losers who treat you like shit.”
I know, obvious, right?
I’m really wishing I’d followed the advice considering who the next guy was.
Took me a few years to really let that little gem sink in, luckily before I met your Papa. I should probably tell you that a relationship is not supposed to be the measuring stick for how fulfilled you are in life, but by the time you read this and really get what I’m writing here, you’ll likely have already figured that out. If not, well, don’t center your life on a relationship. Don’t strangle yourself either, another writer told me that once, since we’re on the subject of obvious advice that never seems to sink in. Have a plan and be ready to adapt, that’s probably a good one too.
Oh yeah, and talk.
For the love of God, Buddha, and as your Uncle Dave will tell you, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, talk. Communicate. And I can’t tell you exactly to what degree because the frustrating part is that there’s going to be a level you’re willing to talk, and a level they’re willing to talk, and sometimes never the twain shall meet. Talk anyway, it makes things easier and reminds you you’re on a team. And it’ll take you a while to figure that out too, and for a while you’ll think you’ve got it figured out and then you’ve got to retool and tweak and adapt it all over again. If you love them, it’ll be worth it.
I’m telling you this because it’s all been going through my mind, everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve gone through, as I sit here, near the closing of 2014, not knowing what 2015’s going to bring but saying “Fuck it, I’m making plans anyway.” Two months from now I’m proposing to your Papa, even if most of the suspense is gone because we talked about it so much we ended up “pre-engaged” because we both planned to ask and both found out we were going to say yes. Just a matter of making it official, really, but all that obvious advice I just dispensed to you has been going through my head as if to say, “This is why you made it here, this is why you made it this far, this is why the next step isn’t some crazy whim of your 20s.”
I’m asking him at the first convention I’ve ever been invited to, but I’m not thinking about my career. I’m thinking that weekend in February will be about how I took that major step toward being with him, and him with me. It’ll be how it won’t just be me taking a step closer to you, it’ll be him taking that step as well, because I wanted him to be part of that decision. You’re going to have two dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, dozens of people who’ll love you, and want you to be part of their lives.
Just like we’ll be part of yours.
Apologies in advance for that, there’s a fair share of crazy on both sides.
Love you, K.T.