Wednesday, June 24, 2015


In my sixth day in Portland waiting for my grandson Malik and no sign that he’s ready to emerge. It’s a strange feeling, neither wholly here nor there, in a kind of limbo. Not that it hasn’t been lovely being with my two daughters, Kerala and Talia. son-in-law Ronnie, wife Karen and granddaughter Zadie on lazy summer days. Every day has had at least one social focus— meeting my nephews at the local Farmer’s Market (I highly recommend the crepes!), meeting Talia’s new boyfriend’s (Xander) family who live five blocks from Kerala and Ronnie, having a barbecue dinner and great conversation with my old college friends Gabe and Steve.

I’ve been biking around this most bikable city, bought a new watch downtown, shopped to stock up on groceries for the impending birth. And today we went to a local pool. It’s been a busy enough time and each thing fun. Oh, and at the center is just following Zadie around and responding to her interests—building Marble Mazes, singing songs, telling stories, watching her jump off the fence or paint or dance.

But I feel some restlessness throughout it all and the tension of an impending deadline that now has arrived. Tomorrow Talia and I need to drive back to San Francisco. Me to rehearse for a Saturday morning jazz concert and pack for a Saturday evening plane flight to Turkey to teach an Orff Course, she to get ready to go to a good friend’s wedding. It feels terrible to leave before Malik appears, not only sad to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event, but also disappointed to not be here to help with Zadie and help care for Kerala and generally celebrate the occasion. We all thought he would come early, only because Zadie did and second babies often do, and now he’s two days overdue. Aarghh.

If I didn’t already have a plane ticket to Turkey and wasn’t one of three teachers that the group is counting on, I would definitely consider canceling. But once you commit to a path, there are certain sacrifices you expect to make. And so I have all my excuses and justifications lined up, the way we do, to try to make our ambivalence bearable. Aren't we great at that?

• It’s not as if most grandparents see their grandkids being born. They usually stop by a few weeks later, especially if they're from out of town.

• My wife will stay on to help out and Ronnie is off from work. They have good neighbors and a growing support system.

• I’ll be up here again six weeks from now and will meet Malik then. And that's how old Zadie was when we first met her.

• I’ve spent my life constantly negotiating between work and family and did a reasonably good job, often combining the two and bringing the family to places I was working like Australia, Salzburg, South Africa, India, Brazil and more. I left a course when my Dad had open-heart surgery and naturally, planned things around weddings and such.

• It's all in the life of the traveling music teacher. And this is my confession.

• It is what it is.

See how good I am at this? But the bottom line is that I'm sad to leave, sorry to miss out, sorry to not be available to help. No one to wholly blame (Malik?), we all were "open to outcome but can't be attached to outcome" and this is all a small blip in the big picture.

But still.

Malik, I will welcome you from afar, be good to your mother on your way out and we shall meet a bit further down the road.

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