Wednesday, September 16, 2015

If Not For Her



What am I missing?

I was playing an old autumn centric playlist in preparation for the best season of the year.  A track from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the "Once" soundtrack kicked on and - like all good songs will do - it immediately transported me back to a specific time and place.

When we lived in Houston, together Jill and I got our taste for independent film.  There were a few art houses and Landmark theatres we frequented to get our fix.  One of which was the Greenway Plaza cinema that resided just a couple blocks from our apartment.

Greenway was like a speakeasy cinema of sorts.  (At least that's how I liked to categorize it in my brain.)  It lived underground, beneath an office complex.  You had to park in the underground lot to access the theatre.

It was a no frills theatre.

Twenty screens?  Try two.

Theatre style seating?  What's that?

Wait service?  Are you kidding?  Get off your ass and get the popcorn yourself.

We loved it.  It was our generation's version of a classic theatre.  It even had those seats that offer two positions --> 'uncomfortable incline' and 'don't you dare touch the back of your head to the back of the crusty seat recline.'

Oh, and to be clear, this was during our pre Rory era.  Now all film viewing comes courtesy of Netflix.

So we're looking thru the alternative weekly paper (yeah, a paper!) one Friday and Jill lands on this film opening at Greenway called "Once."

"I've read good things about this one.  What do you think?"

I look at the ad.  "It's Irish."

"Yeah...so?"

"I don't want to read subtitles tonight."

(I'm just kidding.  That's not how it went down.  Jill didn't marry a moron.  Though, what if she did?  What if - all along - I've been just smart enough to distract her from my idiocy?  It's possible...)

So we hit the film.

And, you know, sometimes you come out of a theatre - maybe more often than not - and you have a different take than those w/ whom you attended the movie?  You loved it, but your friend was nonplussed about it.  You despised it and your spouse fell asleep...

Well, "Once" struck a nerve w/ both Jilly and me - the same nerve.  We were both blown away by the unique story delivery.  It over-delivered and left a lasting impression on us both.  So much so that we immediately picked up the soundtrack (a win!) and years later saw the Broadway musical (a stinker).

So, as I'm driving today, listening to my "Fall 08" playlist,  "When Your Minds Made Up" kicks on and I'm immediately (IMMEDIATELY) propelled back to that theatre w/ my wife.  That feeling of being together on the anticipatory drive to the theatre, sitting beside one another engrossed in the film, and even the walk back to the car in the cavernous underground lot.

I don't want to overhype the experience.  It wasn't a momentous occasion at the time.

But, now, in the rear view, it appears to be so.  It's like your vehicle's side view mirror message - "Memories may appear more emotionally charged."

And if not for Jill's suggestion, I wouldn't have this emotional tie to this film's music.  I wouldn't have...

The reality is if I want to go down the path of 'if not for Jill, I wouldn't have,' this would be a much longer post than anyone would want to read (though likely equal parts painful and therapeutic for me).

Instead, the perspective my brain took was of our now and our future.  More specifically, what am I missing - what am I going to miss now that I don't have my wife, my best friend to suggest that movie in the alt weekly?  What's flying by while I obliviously go down whatever ignorant path I'm on?  And more, what's Ro missing?  What am I not showing/offering/teaching her that would have been delivered by her mommy?  I often think about that.

I mean, do we just have to accept that our lives will never be as rich and fulfilling as they would have been if Jill Marie were w/ us every step of the way?

In my mind, that's real.  That's the truth.  Shit's not better w/o.

I guess the case can be made that it's just 'different.'  But, that's a cop out.

If I give a hard look at the truth, what reflects back is 'less than.'  My existence is less than it was w/ Jill in it.  And some days I can accept that more than others.  Scratch that.  The more accurate line here is that some days I don't acknowledge my reality thru this prism.  This is when temporary ignorance is bliss.

And how blissful is my ignorance?  

It ain't as blissful as it used to be.  And that's a fact.

All love,

J, J, & r


Monday, September 14, 2015

"You're the dad."


It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

(What year is it?  I don't know.)

The way I describe our household's level of Jewiness to Ro is that we're quite simply Jewish by label.  It doesn't run much deeper than that.

I have a great appreciation for the Jewish community I was raised w/in.  And I am replicating it to a certain extent for Ro.  But, for the most part, it doesn't go much further than that.

Pre Ro, Jill and I discussed the religious upbringing of our kiddos.  Would we go the Jilly path, replicating her personalized religious beliefs?  Would we default to Judaism b/c it already has a construct that we can fold into?  Or, would we pick some alternate cult religion to inflict upon our spawn?

When the time came, Jill and I loosely agreed to raise Rory Jewish, noting that Daddy would have to take the lead since he's a 'chosen one.'

But, when Rory was born and the years began to pass, we didn't really step into Judaism.  Instead, we would discuss it on the periphery, while never really making our way into a synagogue.

Well, to be fair, we did dip our religiously conflicted toes into temple on a few occasions.

For one, Rory was involved in a baby naming ceremony wherein she received her Hebrew name.  We have a formal certificate to prove it...somewhere...maybe in the basement.  What is Rory's Hebrew name?  Good question...

Last summer'ish Jill, Ro, and I attended a more progressive synagogue in the city to try it on and see if it fit.  It didn't.  We strategically positioned ourselves in the children's service, hoping we would be able to ride Ro's enthusiasm to a temple membership.  Not so much.  The children's service was much too young for Rory.  We played along, but each of us pointed glances at the others throughout the mundane service suggesting something similar to, "Are you fucking kidding me w/ this?"

We left the children's service feeling unfulfilled; then somehow found ourselves in a Bat Mitzvah service that was just underway in the main room.  So as not to disrupt, we quietly sat our threesome in the back.

Rory was enamored.  To her, it was a performance on a stage.

Jill rolled w/ it.

And I...well, I was intoxicated...not by the service.  Rather, what had me entranced was the old couple two rows in front of us.  They were worth the price of admission.  Like us, they didn't appear to have personal ties to the Bat Mitzvah.  While the gentleman was clearly trying to observe the service, the woman was having none of it.  This was her time to point insults at (what I assume was) her husband, loudly, and w/ great frequency.  And he just absorbed them.  How he restrained from shoving a basket full of yarmulkes down her throat must have been an act of God.  B/c I was loading up on his behalf.  Jill and I shot glances back and forth at one another.  "Are you fucking kidding me w/ this?"

Flash forward to the present.  Still no real Judaism flowing thru this nucleus.  Reason being is that I'm still conflicted by it.  And by 'it' I mean all religion, not just Judaism.  So, my conflict results in religious paralysis for our household.

Sometimes I'm okay w/ it.  Other times, when I feel like it may be of positive service to Ro, I think about pushing her in.  Clearly this internal battle continues.


Where was I?  Oh yes...today is the Jewish New Year.

And w/ that comes the question - to go to school or not to go to school?

Ro rolls into my room this morning.  "Good morning, Dad.  Am I going to school today?"

And it's not like she's leaning one way or the other.  She's genuinely asking, looking to me, her adult child father, for direction.

"I don't know."  I take a beat.  "What do you think?" I respond aimlessly.

"I don't know.  You're the dad.  That's why I'm asking you."

Shit.  Good point.

"Alright.  Just give me a minute.  I'll figure it out."

Twenty minutes later a decision was made.  I would work.  Ro would school.

It's times like this where the religious debate would rise up between Jill and I.  It wasn't so much an argument as a somewhat frustrated, what are we going to do?  And unfortunately I don't get to have that debate w/ Jill.

So, like so many other situations, I have to have that debate w/ myself.

Yes, I can imagine what Jill would say in certain circumstances.  I often lean on her in that way for guidance.  But, ultimately, it's on me.

I'm the dad.

And as her mommy would often say to me, I'm doing the best I can.

All love,

J, J, & r

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Picture Day

Despite multiple tactics - going to bed early, meditating, even setting a later alarm - I continue to have a difficult time waking w/ any level of functional energy.  I'm in a daze.

The thought has hit my mind that I've taken ownership of the slow wake that became Jill's MO over the last couple years.  No comfort in this thought.  It just...is.

I feel the thud of the laptop hit the foot of my bed while I still lay in it this morning.  I peel my eyes open just enough to see Ro punching fingers at the keyboard w/ a clear mission written on her face.

"Hey...whatcha doin'?" I slur out.

"It's picture day today.  It's fashion show time.  Need help deciding my outfit!" She throws this back at me w/ assertive energy and a beaming smile.

I pull my head off the pillow and point it in the direction of this morning's model.

The music begins.  It's the radio pop song de jour.  "...Cause baby I'm worth it..."

I no likey, but roll w/ it.

Ro proceeds to own the catwalk that also happens to be the rug at the end of my bed.  She elongates her stride, tossing her hair as if she was trained when I wasn't looking.  (And I'm always looking.)

"What'd you think of this one?" she says referring to outfit #1.

"I like," I say thru my haze.

Ro exits my room as the music continues to puncture my ear holes.

She proceeds to come back...three times...and strut her stuff for all me to see.

Mommy should be here.

We both agree and land on outfit #1.  It's a tasteful black-&-teal striped 3/4 length sleeve top coupled w/ black leggings.  (Is it 'leggings' or 'leggins'?)  I wouldn't be surprised to see a teacher wearing the same thing.

Ro explains to me that her teacher suggested the girls where dresses today.  But, Ro has no intention of wearing a dress.  "It's one of a thousand pictures I'm sure I'll be in this year.  Why do I have to dress up?  Why can't I just be myself?"

No arguments here.  I love my kid.

No arguments from Jilly either.

As long as Ro looks presentable and not disheveled, we're all good.

"What's the plan for the hair?" I ask hesitantly.

I have hair style limitations.

I can brush it out.  I can pony it up.  I can even pigtail it if the morning is going my way.

Anything outside of these arguably simple options and I'm fucked.  We're fucked.

So, this is a loaded question I hope works in our collective favor.

"I think I just want to wear it down, Dad," Ro responds.

Thank goodness.  Dodged a(nother) bullet.  Though I can't help but think that Ro has made this decision knowing my limitations.  And this makes me sad...

In addition to her completed homework and healthy lunch, Ro packs her brush and a set of more casual clothes to change into after morning pictures.

All she needs now is her smile.

That's the easy part.

All love,

J, J, & r

Say cheeeeeeeeese