Passing The First Test Of Fatherhood: Returning Home On One's Own Volition

I had to go into "the city" for a work meeting this evening. I haven't been in Manhattan for over seven weeks, since before Animal was born.

The good news is that it still looks the same. This is what I saw when I popped out of the subway at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street:

Sixth Avenue and 15th Street, February 16, 2012, 5:53 p.m.

It wasn't until this past Friday that we even left the neighborhood, when we took Squeak on his first subway ride. Part of our reticence is not knowing what we would do if things went wrong along the way — How to change a diaper without a changing table? What if he won't take a bottle? — and part of it was not knowing where to go in the first place. I don't know about going to a restaurant yet, for example. So we've been at home, learning how to manage fussiness in our bathrobes and with an ample supply of baby wipes at hand.

Leaving the meeting — which lasted less than two hours, mind you — I had this feeling, or a conflicted feeling. I clearly couldn't just hang out and walk around or go see a movie (early on I joked about heading out to see a movie) or smoke crack down at the riverfront. At the same time, I wanted to get back to see how Jen and Monkey were getting on. I wasn't worried about them — Jen has an advantage in that she is able to serve him food on demand — but we haven't really been separated from each other for more than a half-hour since we had come home.

But a tiny part of me thought that it might be fun to take a little stroll somewhere. It was like Rabbit, Run except I didn't have a car . . . and I wasn't going to run anywhere . . . and I didn't really want to run anywhere . . . and without Rabbit's annoying "drama" . . . and . . . maybe it really wasn't like an Updike novel at all, come to think of it. I looked at the intersection, marveled at how nimble and fearless the gentlemen making a wide turn onto Sixth Avenue on skateboards were, feared a little bit for the bicyclists riding in the dark and ducked into the subway entrance. My sojourn lasted all of a block, meaning directly from the restaurant to the subway.

What I did do was somehow end up on the L platform when a Brooklyn-bound train was rolling into the station, which worked out well in that I could take it one stop over to Union Square and switch to the N or the Q. It was funny to be on the L among so many people who I'm sure didn't have a two-month-old. They looked so . . . well rested — and this was after work even. Of course nothing puts your life in focus like realizing that some of your fellow passengers could easily be 15 years younger than you. Fifteen years? How did that happen? And do I look 15 years older than them? As Goober would say, "Take it to heart."

Jen and Monkey were doing fine when I got home, though I was slightly happy to hear Jen sound a little bit relieved that I was home.

Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , ,