Big Movies, Place Mats and Ghosts

To parent a child seemed a manifest undertaking when I was twenty eight years old. I wasn’t concerned with the deeper understandings, mostly because I didn’t know they existed. The warning labels on such an undertaking were gray and oblivious places. Fitfully told in shadowy increments of humorous sounding anecdotes by the people who had moved the idea into reality over great big hugs worth of time and place. Their stories were of Kodak and memory boxes and pencil scratch marks on kitchen entryways. It was Kansas on a Quaalude to my way of thinking.

This isn’t to say that the prospect of being a father didn’t scare me. Hell, it scared the shit out of me. But the manifold of such an idea was weighted in the dynamics of diapers and insomnia and relatives that were going to be more familiar to me than I was used to. The fear was a known and simple piece of a thing.

It took me almost twenty years to understand what it really means when two people decide they’re gonna jump out of an airplane at the same time, and raise a life to the his and her somewhere of their somewhere else places.

And so . . . to the here of Gatsby and Hemingway’s sister, I can finally say with enough of God’s speed, that yeah . . . I got this.

This weekend was an amazing place to find myself inside of. Because I found myself at a dinner table with mom, the sisters and their baby girl, my son and his girlfriend. And the cat. Mr Speaker would not be pleased with his last place finish on this thought, so I’m really glad he hasn’t learned to read. Yet.

As the pages turn and the calendar flips and the gray hair keeps on coming, I find myself in the best of all possible places. The place where I belong.

I blew my twenties to smithereens; the first half on parties and girls and a bullshit persona I thought was wearing really well. The latter half was a negotiation of crazy and sane- with the latter winning out thanks to a girl who taught me how to breathe. A girl I married, after which kids and white picket fences seemed a sensible negotiation.

My thirties flipped the script. I began it with place mats and family get togethers. I ended it by closing down some of the very same joints I had frequented back when I was young and stupid enough to do such a thing.

Forty changed me for the better that I find myself in today. Because it was where I married the comedy to the tragedy of my life, and somehow made it rhyme.

I went to see Interstellar this week, thanks to my son. He’s the biggest Cristopher Nolan fan this side of the famous director’s mama. And while I don’t always agree with his fascination, I will always pay attention to the things he loves. Because he’s my boy. The one who makes me believe in superheroes. Because he’s my superhero.

I’m still figuring out the last of his Christmas gifts, because while he’s amazing in every single way, he’s also the biggest pain in the ass when it comes to Christmas shopping ideas.

My daughter is different. I love Christmas shopping for her. I could have been done with her list in October- or in June- but she makes it so much fun to keep finding something else. She’s hippie and she’s chic and she’s the most beautiful girl this side of Vera Farmiga. She has the sense and the sensibility and she has that peaceful smile that her mama had on the day I fell in love with such a thing.

We skyped today, me and the girl. After chatting the morning away, and talking on the phone for a healthy bit of afternoon. I never feel the two time zone difference, because my little girl never, ever feels that far away.

She’s still the little girl I took to a play in Philadelphia. The adorable little face I sang Stevie Wonder songs to. She’s still the tiny dancer, frozen inside the time of a video camera one Christmas morning; all dressed in crazy hair and Elmo pajamas. She’s my crush, the best and the last one. The favorite of all ones.

So I got to thinking about that Cristopher Nolan flick I went to see this week. A movie that brought me back to the girl who taught me how to breathe. I thought about our white picket fence existence. And those babies we made. And while that girl and me failed on our count, we made heaven work in the negotiations. Because we made two kids, whose lives and stories are just getting ready to be told. And man, they’re gonna be some kind of stories.

There was a line in Interstellar that took my breath away. It had to do with the idea that parents are the ghosts of their children’s future.

am the ghost to the memory banks of my kids futures. And I’m plenty fine with that idea. Because it means they will be thankful for having had me around. I’m going to give them stories to tell, over and over and over again. And I’m going to elicit a belly laugh whenever they think back to that time and place. And hey, they’re going to miss the hell out of me. And somewhere in the milky way, I’ll be the giggle that helps break the lonesome silence. And somewhere in the crazy music of forever, I’ll be thinking the very same thing I’m thinking right now.

I got this.


32 thoughts on “Big Movies, Place Mats and Ghosts

  1. Speaking of Interstellar, there’s a “Murph” in my life too that I’m eternally grateful for. I thought about her throughout the picture, of our closeness, and that she’s also my friend and how empty my life would be without her..
    Great film. Another great piece by you Cayman! You’re always making us think….

  2. Oh Cayman,
    I know I say this every time…but, this might be my favorite. You captured it. The magic, the feels, the wonder and terror of being a parent and the knowing that you’d jump right out of the plane and then sign up for it all over again.
    I know this feeling you described. Ugh…described is such an inadequate word for the beautiful vibe you projected.
    I had it on the Monday before Thanksgiving–my youngest son’s birthday. After the food and the cake and laughter, it was us on the couch watching a horrible movie and loving every minute of it. My hubby, my girl home from college, my son and my two dogs…it would have taken a bomb to pry us apart.
    You’ve created another printable for me, Cayman. I’d read your stuff every day if I could…but, it’s always worth the wait.

    • Frank- Thank you. As for the Jets, now comes the gauntlet. Next two weeks we play two former champions. If we can split, then we have a chance. And by split, I mean we HAVE to beat the Ravens in Miami this weekend.

        • I believe we end the season with Minny and the Jets. Two very winnable games, and on the face of it, a seemingly easy road to the playoffs. But we carry a reputation for returning Christmas gifts, so I’m gonna hold off on the merry for now.

            • I think you’re probably going to be going up against John Football when you play the Browns. As for the Steelers, they’re dangerous when they play good teams but not so much against the teams they should beat. Strange. The Broncos are a tough regular season opponent. But I have Denver going out early come the postseason. I just don’t believe them.

              Best of luck down the home stretch!

  3. I can’t believe I just made my way to this amazingly awesome piece of writing. Dude you soooooooo got this! This is one of the most touching pieces you’ve written about your kids. You are definitely the giggle that will “break the lonesome silence” you’re the hearty laugh that warms the soul. You got this my friend and I can’t tell you how great it is to have seen this page from your family photo album. You definitely inspire me to catch these moments with my kids, I hope I’m able to master the language with the magic that you practice so that it can help tell a great story too. One of my favorite posts. Well done buddy.

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