The History Leading Up to You, in a Picture

Dear son,

Today, my work found me on the 42nd floor of Two Prudential Plaza in downtown Chicago. I snapped a photo at the beginning of the day to post on social media. (It’s this thing we humans do, to pause our lives for a moment to snap a photo and share it, so we can show everyone just how interesting our lives are. I’m sure you’ve noticed.) (Also, it’s a way to draw attention to your line of work, and hope to engage more customers. I’m sure you’ve noticed this too.)

Looking back on the photo later today, I noticed there are a lot of landmarks in the photo from my 12 years thus far in Chicago, and some even before that, moments that led to you.

One of the buildings on the right is the former Blackstone Hotel, the place I stayed on my very first visit to Chicago, in May of 1998. Somewhere over there, a little south, is the Essex too, where I stayed on my second visit, about the same time a year later. I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace that night.

If I’m a good dad, you will not have seen this movie when you read this.

That roadway down the middle of the street is Columbus Drive, the starting and end points of the Chicago Marathon. I ran one marathon a few weeks after your mom and I moved in together, and another a couple of years later with your Aunt Susan. Your mom has a really embarrassing story about chasing me around the city and a clothing mishap she had, but she will probably never, ever, ever tell you that story, or let me share it with you, because there are stories children shouldn’t know about their mothers.

Soldier Stadium is in there. I’ve down two races that have started and ended there, one with your Aunt Susan, and another with your Uncles John and Jason.

Grant Park is there too, where I was the night Barack Obama was elected in 2008. There was so much hope for the country and the world at that moment, and I can only hope as I write this we’ve returned to something close to that by the time you’re reading this.

Somewhere on Michigan Avenue, to the right, is where I was when your mom texted me, and I had a hunch I would come home from teaching class that night to be told she was pregnant with you.

Bonus: Down in the lower right is the park where you had your first Easter egg hunt. You had no interest in the eggs. We just played in the park with Danielle and Brian and Sebastian.

It’s funny, I don’t make it to downtown Chicago much these days, maybe once a week or every couple. I don’t really think of a lot of my history being there, but looking at this picture, there’s a lot of me there, and so, a lot of you.

I can’t wait to share this view with you, or one like it, in person with you one day.

Love you, kid.

– Your Dad

 

Becoming Your {{{Time Traveling}}} Dad

Becoming Your Dad started with great ambition and intention. I started the blog a couple of months before my son was to be born. The idea was to write letters to my son to read at some point in the future, chronicling my journey towards growing into a new person…becoming his dad.

The blog started off strong. And then Harrison actually came into this world.

A lot of days learning how to care for a tiny human, and accompanying sleep-deprived nights followed. I was also trying to get not one, but two, businesses off the ground – my real estate business, and my massage therapy practice, after deciding to completely break out on my own, leaving the clinic I had been working at for four years.

Those were good reasons in and of themselves, but there’s another factor, and perhaps the most important: I got writer’s block.

Specifically, I got blocked in writing in the particular format I had chosen. The truth is, becoming a dad unlocked a lot of baggage for me in how I was raised, a path I don’t care to go down in raising my own family, and that’s where much of my head space has been in that regard. Putting those thoughts in letter form to my son didn’t seem fair; it felt like I would be unloading my issues onto him.

So this blog has been, unfortunately, infrequently updated.

Meanwhile, thoughts on how I can creatively and artistically express myself in my new role as a parent has been percolating for some time – an idea revolving around a podcast about fatherhood and marriage, mixed with my love of time travel stories.

Here’s the truth, something I didn’t fully realize until a few years ago: Time travel stories (particularly the 80s/90s cult classic Quantum Leap) saved my soul when I was a kid. I was a misfit. I was constantly teased and bullied.

So I often imagined I was actually my future-self having come back to relive my childhood and observe how hard it was for me to fit in, and to assure me it would eventually get better.

I never actually believed that, but it was a great fantasy, a coping mechanism, a thought exercise.

To this day, I still often look at life a bit through the lens of being a time traveler – I’m able to go back and revisit my past with a present day perspective, and somewhere within me – sometimes more present than other times – is my future self guiding me towards being the better man, husband and dad I am to become.

And so that’s the new direction of this blog and podcast.

The podcast will be launching sometime in mid to late-August. Blogs and perhaps other video content will hopefully become more frequent.

I’ll hope you’ll join me for the ride.