It’s a lovely day. It’s cold but it’s nice. The sun is out. There’s a breeze. The smell of smoke is in the air. It’s a perfect November day.
Lola races ahead of me, as she always does. Six months ago she couldn’t walk but she runs now. Her tiny legs pound the ground as she explores the epic terrain. She’s flailing her arms as she soars, screaming and babbling. She’s incredibly happy.
I can’t help but be in awe of my little girl. She is pure energy on this morning and I’m almost jealous of her. I’m exhausted and depressed yet she’s so utterly unaware of any of this. She couldn’t comprehend any of what’s on my mind if she tried.
Lola and I act out a ritual from my childhood. I spent a lot of time at the parks with my parents. Now I’m the daddy keeping a close eye on his kid. The realization that the torch has passed hits me like a brick. I’m truly an adult now. I know that’s what others see.
But I don’t see it. I see the guy who yesterday had a meltdown over an unexpected financial hit. No way is that guy an adult. He’s not Lola but how can someone so weak be considered an adult? I’m ashamed of me.
That’s hard because that’s who I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to be the guy I’m playing now. I’m a put together father in a nice overcoat walking with his baby girl. I’m admirable in this moment. If you saw me you’d respect me.
Lola respects me. She’s loudly babbling to me. Every so often she looks up at me, asking me my thoughts on what she’s said in her baby vocabulary. Later we’ll curl up on the couch and she’ll coo as I read to her. She thinks I’m great.
And I don’t think I’m great. My confidence has been shaken of late as I’ve fought for something I wanted, an opportunity, and haven’t gotten. I made several very serious tries and was rejected every time. I feel like there’s something lacking in me.
How I wish that were my only worry this morning. I’m thinking of the news. Yet more names come out of men who’ve abused women/men. I feel nauseated at this behavior yet oddly uncomfortable. I want to condemn it, and I do, but I feel like I live in a glass house. I know I’m not perfect and I wonder what sins of mine will come to light. I’ve never done anything this bad but I’m uncomfortable thinking I’m “good.”
Then there’s my future. There were layoffs at my job. There’s change there. I’m certain I won’t be in the newspaper business within five years, despite training for a life in it. I’m not sure who I will be and that frustrates me. It make me wonder about my very identity.
My reverie is broken by Lola handing me an acorn she’s excitedly found. As I take it I look at my little girl and all questions about my identity and worth fade. I’m secondary now in my life. Lola is first.
We walk through the park. Lola runs and I let my mind go blank, just watching her.