Prepping for fatherhood in 1997, I finally felt deeply connected to humankind’s technological adolescence, a revolution that would engulf almost everyone I knew. During my wife’s pregnancy, I signed up for AOL. We acquired our first family cell phone and desktop Mac. When son Jack arrived in 1998, I was able to say, “Welcome to the future. The agency of the gods is ours.”
The presence on the Inca trail was sentient, and I was her guest, but I daresay she did not care about the “me” that stood there. At the same time, my soul connected to this presence. All of my other attributes did not – i.e. my will, my personality, my wrung-out body. This was a first for me. Occasionally, I cry trying to explain. It’s not sadness. I think it might be joy. But words don’t really suffice.
By the mid-Seventies, I’d already learned some math and a fair amount of grammar from Schoolhouse Rock, which had debuted its ingeniously compressed, educational animated short films nationally in 1973, when I was eight. Much of the material was written and performed by jazz great Bob Dorough (1923-2018), irresistible, instantly memorable melodies to which I still recite my times tables, catchy tunes that help me remember a noun is a person, place, or thing, and the words and, but, and or are conjunctions.
The “Lost Cause” would have you believe the Confederates fought for freedom from the urban North, likened in Lost-Cause mythology to England in the American Revolution. Similar to the crown, the North sought to control these people who believed God entitled them to build empires however they wished.
He was seated on a pickle bucket, too, in shorts and a drenched white tank top, tirelessly executing polyrhythms like three drummers at once, ropes of muscle in his arms pulsing, eyes closed as he nodded, perspiration flying. Strangers danced, high-fived, and locked eyes with other strangers in that way that says, “We are witnessing something magical, my friend, isn’t is great?”
Unbeknownst to me, I was in the last wave of artists who could enjoy low overhead, good food, a reasonable amount of space, and an abundance of art and adventure in New York City. Within a decade, Giuliani’s reign would help usher those days into the past.
As Ulster County enters phase four of the pause, I am beginning to see a time when I will finally be able to once again sit across from my students – six feet, with masks – and teach them to make music; I will be performing/teaching at two summer camps – all outside; I am discussing an outdoor performance of my one-man show, under the stars. I am looking forward to these things the way a child looks forward to Disney World.
An old house comes with stories. Although we’ve lived in Big Blue, our 1910 Victorian in Phoenicia, for 18 years, we’ve only just begun musing deeply on the tales herein. Now we want more.
Like everyone, I have been chagrined, schooled by Mother Nature, of which the coronavirus is a part. You got plans? Think again. Be humble or you’ll stumble. (Actually, you will stumble anyway.)
I’d let myself go. But I was so in love with my full-time caregiver gig, I did not care. While looking after Jack, reading to him, conversing with him constantly, watching Teletubbies and Totoro and Toy Story, and feeding him breast milk his mother had pumped at work, I was eating like I never had before.