Waiting for the steam train, Berkeley, CA.
Valentine’s Day train ride, Berkeley, CA.
Way back when the beloved and I had our commitment ceremony, circa 1997, we made a point to celebrate all kinds of love. Familial, platonic, romantic; all of it. Â We did that partly because we were uncomfortable about having drawn people from far and wide to pay attention only to us-us-us. But we also wanted to thank those we gathered around us for equipping us with the capacity to love one another so well. Â Any celebration of a union is implicitly a celebration of all that makes it possible. Every time we love and are loved well, we learn more about it, and are empowered to do it better with others.
So Valentine’s Day mit kids ropes us all in. A hike in the hills, a picnic, a spell-binding train ride. Yummy Chinese food for dinner. Â Okay, so onlyÂ some of us had champagne with our dinner. Â And only some of us had the salted chocolate caramels in front of a movie after the kids were in bed. Â But hey. Any good train needs a caboose for the staff to chillax in.
At Mama’s Royal Cafe, Oakland, CA.
We went to Oakland’s legendary Mama’s Royal CafÃ© the other day as a foursome, for the first time in forever. Or rather, for the first time since the little guy was in a baby seat, which feels like forever. It’s a long period of diminished engagement with the world, these early years. The dark side of the moon.
“Can the little one last the duration of ___ (X, Y, or Z public sphere experience; you pick it) without a physical/emotional collapse of excruciating proportions? Can we?”
This has limited our luxury dining out experience to a coupla taquerias. It could be worse: a good taqueria was always my other culinary pilgrimage (aside from Mama’s) when I returned home to the Bay Area during my half-dozen years’ expatriation in the Great Upper Midwest.
But with the youngest youngin at three, we’re beginning to see the light. Â We made it through the whole meal at Mama’s with nothing more than a little pre- and post-food loopiness. Â On the little guy’s part. Though the beloved and I got a bit dizzy, too.
“Here we are! In an actual restaurant! And nobody’s spilled anything yet, or burst out crying!”
We’re gonna drink it all in, all of this. There’ll be a time (won’t there be?) when we’ll be lucky to get the two of them to sit with us in public for the duration of a meal without texting their chums under the table.
“ZOMG Baba just said I <3 U!!! Again!!! LOL!!! BTD!! CUL8R!”
There’s a story that goes along with this. Â Details to be appended to this here post later tonight, after I get the kids in bed.
Long ago, back when people picked up newspapers in their hands in the morning and read them, then put them down and went on with other parts of their day (what a time!), The San Francisco Chronicle used to run a piece called The Question Man.Â Somebody â€“ presumably The Question Man â€“ went around town asking folks some interesting question. A columnâ€™s worth of the short (Twitter-length) replies were printed alongside a thumbnail photo of the respondent and her/his name, age, occupation, and hometown. Through this we got a pulse-reading from our neighbors on matters great and small.
While I read it regularly â€“ along with Art Hoppe and Herb Caen and later Jon Carroll — Â none of the questions or answers were memorable. Except one: â€œWhen is a person â€˜middle agedâ€™?â€Â The phenomenon (middle age) was a speck in my distant future, but I took a mild interest in the answers just the same.Â Some folks named a year — 30, 40, whatever. Others used some other marker, like â€œWhen your marriage is older than your dog,â€ or â€œWhen you are the same age or older than movie stars and national-level elected officialsâ€ or some such. Â But one really stuck with me.Â One woman said, â€œMiddle age is when you no longer apologize for yourself.â€
This last definition of middle age has stayed with me as the most compelling, until last Sunday night, when I discovered that middle age is really when you are capable of SPRAINING YOUR FINGER PLAYING AIR GUITAR WITH YOUR KIDS.
Yeah, yeah, I know.Â Dictionary definition of â€œpathetic.â€ Iâ€™ll only add, for the record: it was to Lynard Skynardâ€™s â€œFree Bird,â€ and it was worth it.Â Â And this post took me 40 minutes to type.
Lesbian Dad is a personal essay/photography blog. It began as a document of my (genderqueer) parenthood but, like life, its ambit has stretched to include much more than I expected.
My kids call me "Baba," and together we work toward a world in which amor really does vincit omnia.