I cannot imagine life, on any level, without my Little Girl. So I stay down in Deepest Jersey, so far rooted in the corn and soybeans that I cannot imagine an easy way out.
I do what I can to make life comfortable -- like dating. Many of the women I've met there have been very nice. Nearly all have firm handshakes, from all the cow milking. Rurality rules. Once, I got excited when I learned that they were putting in a big-box store nearby. "Target?" I hopefully asked a farmer I know. "Better!" he shouted back. "Tractor Supply Company!"
For native New York City boys like me, Exit One of the New Jersey Turnpike was always a theoretical concept. But now I'm 14 minutes from the toll booths, the abstract having become quite real. I'm also a cowpie's toss from the oldest continuously run weekly rodeo in America, called – what else? -- Cowtown. It's near a weekly animal auction that's so old, George Washington bought meat on the hoof there to be slaughtered for his men at Valley Forge.
I accept this as life now, the crazy way it is. I've nosed around and learned that the type of joint legal and physical custody I have is the closest thing to an intact family there can be after a divorce. There are lots of negatives when fathers are missing from the picture. So I'm not going anywhere, even if it means squelching the now-withering urbanite within.
I should say right now that I don't hold myself out as the world's most stable human. I've been known to silently curse intact families I've seen at the mall. And I once caught myself tearing up manfully when Dora the Explorer found her temporarily lost pal Boots in an episode about the importance of friendship. Moving, man.
The truest piece of American advertising I ever heard was the Johnson & Johnson tagline: "Having a baby changes everything." And raising a child through divorce changes what's already been altered and gives life a dizzying spin.
This blog that starts today is an attempt to chronicle the vertigo and the wild ride. As the Little Girl reminds me, via one of her favorite singers, John Mayer, "Fathers are supposed to be good to their daughters, dad."
Honey, I'm trying.