As I keep writing about on this blog, everything in my life is changing. This is inescapable. I am going to be a father. The grand fight of my life? Well it becomes secondary to her life. That’s how it must be. That’s how it should be. That’s how I want it to be.
I need my life to go this way. The last two years have been frustrating as I searched for purpose. I had a hole in me I was trying to fill but in truth only one thing could: paternity. I was and am ready for it.
But there’s something inescapable that I must accept: There are things in my life I will never and can never do again. In my past I’ve taken trips in as short of notice as 24 hours. I’ve impulsively bought graphic novels that cost $45. I’ve stayed up until dawn. I’ve lived freely and “independently.”
In truth these days haven’t existed for a good three years. When I moved in with Amanda I settled down in the physical sense for good. Moving three times in three years made that harder to see but it’s been true. That period of my life has long been in the past.
But it took Lola Faye’s rapidly approaching birth to make me see that. There won’t be any deciding that we can do it as a couple. Amanda and I are locked down. And everything in our lives will change greatly. Even the simpler mes are gone. The Austin who ran to Barnes and Noble out of curiosity? The karaoke Austin? He’s gone. The moviegoer? Gone. Period.
So if I acknowledge that he’s gone, it feels as if I’m breaking the social contract. Saying I’ll miss him sounds like I don’t want this life. Except of course that I do desperately. I think about my daughter in every moment. But I can’t pretend I’m unaware my life is changing and what I’ve known is gone for good.
I’ll miss it. Of course I will. As I’ve noted in the book, I often felt limited in my childhood. In my 20s I released those limits and I lived quite fully. How can I use Google Earth to retrace my trip to Springfield, MO and not feel some nostalgia? It’s impossible. I have great memories and I’ll cherish them.
But these times can’t last. I’m 32. I’m older than I like. If I was still living that life it would start to feel miserable for me. I’d look at what I had and feel I’d accomplished nothing. I would be pathetic. As it stands I’m on the brink of a daughter with my soulmate. I’m fulfilled by what’s to come. It’ll be hard as hell, yes, but the challenge excites me.
And there’s something else that I’ve come to realize: the phases in our life are far shorter than we think they are. That independence I recall lasted less than four years. Really only three and maybe less. College was only four years. I dated Amanda for under two years before we moved in together. Even the seemingly endless unemployment was a mere 15 months in my life.
These phases create a mosaic of experience. They enrich us. They make our lives fuller because we got to sample a bit of everything. Life isn’t endless so shouldn’t we live in more than just a single moment? Yes I loved my trips to Springfield but they’d get old if that was all I did.
I will at some point tell all of these stories. I did with the first 24 years of my life, which are still on sale at Amazon.com. I will for these too. I’m not yet ready I admit. But they were me and they deserve it.
For in the end that life I’m saying goodbye to is still a life I lived. I had that life. It wasn’t long but it was wonderful. I will never let go of who that person was just as I remember everything in my life I can no longer go back to and every person I can never speak to again.
So it is I write an epitaph. I don’t mourn. I look back in joy. Then, with my heart warmed with hope, I turn and I look ahead.