The Old Man and the Banana Hammock

There’s an old man at this resort with rubber skin – he clearly spends far too much time in the sun and it has taken its toll on his skin.  Every morning he’s out early to secure his favorite spot, a lounge chair by the pool that faces the resort restaurant.  By the time we get to breakfast, he is sprawled out on his chair trying to catch as much sun as he possibly can.  This wouldn’t be so bad, except that he is clad in only a banana hammock.

I would call it a speedo but that would be far too modest a description for this decorative loin cloth.  He wears a different one every day – in 5 days I have not seen it repeated once.  I wish I could tell you that I hadn’t noticed but, unfortunately, his chair faces our breakfast table. Each time I look up after a bite, he’s there etching an unwanted sight into my memory.

There is already a lot on this blog that is formulated based on opinion or the perspective I’ve gained after 34 years of life.  The advice I’m about to give you, however, is a fact; please trust me on this.

DO NOT wear a speedo or anything like it – ever.  Unless you are a competitive swimmer and they have banned swim shorts, pants, and bodysuits, you should not wear these garments.  If I ever wear one in public (or even in private for that matter), you have my approval to admit me into a mental institution.

Thank you.

Storm Clouds in Barbados

Before I begin, I just want to note that, for conveniences I may stop referring to everyone as they relate to you. This is for no reason other than it is easier to write names or relations to me than it is to my kids. Anyway, on to this entry.

Between last night and this morning we heard some very sad news about the father of one of my closest friends (we’ll abbreviate the names of the couple to whom I’m about to refer to V and A). I’ll skip the details here but, tragically, A lost her father.

The past 18 months have been very difficult for us and for our friends. Your grandfather has been going through treatment for cancer, as has another friend’s father. Three of my close friends (including A) have lost their fathers as well. Also, your great-grandmother, my mom’s mom, passed away.

For all I have been through thus far in life (which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things), death is one area in which I am thankful that I don’t have much wisdom in. That said, these 18 months have forced me to think about the mortality of us all – from my parents, to me, and even to you. To be honest, this played a big part in why I started writing this blog. God forbid, should something happen to me, I hope these messages live on for you to read and reread, as lasting communications from me to you – all of my children.

I wish I had advice to give you, a way to never feel loss in your lives but, unfortunately, this is something that I don’t have the answer to. Perhaps dealing with death is part of the experience of living – I don’t know – but I do know that this is easy for me to say without facing this experience myself. I also know that the loss of a close loved one will be extremely difficult, will hurt tremendously, and may change me in ways I cannot imagine. This is why it pains me to think about A and what she and her family are going through.

Back in 2006, I learned of a back injury that I supposedly had since birth. This back injury has led to the misalignment of my back, occasional pain, and a lot of self-consciousness about its impact on me. At the time I learned of the injury, I thought a lot about my love of dance, my love of basketball, and how much longer I would be able to partake in these passions before they were taken from me. It was difficult and, I didn’t realize it then, but it took its toll on me. V & A clearly saw this. One evening, during the week, the doorbell rang and I found them at the door. They said they were in the neighborhood and thought they’d stop by to say hello. Still, I know the truth is that they came to check upon me and to cheer me up, even if for a moment.

I have never forgotten this moment of kindness on their parts and I’m reminded of it today, at a time when A feels something far worse than I did back in 2006. If A read this, she would jokingly argue that I remember everything, which is really why I remember this, but the truth is that their gesture meant the world to me. I feel sorry that I am in Barbados when I could be helping and I want to be there for her as she and V were for me.

It’s difficult to know how to really be there for someone at a time like this. Some people want space, while others want to talk about it – I don’t really think there’s a right answer. I do feel though that saying something is better than saying nothing, because I think I’d appreciate even the smallest thought from my friends in that situation. Beyond that, I think it is important for us to be patient and wait for our time to contribute. We can’t let our desire to contribute become a burden on those whom we want to help. While I haven’t spoken to A, I’ve been in touch with V. I’m glad she has the support of V, her family, and her closer friends to rely upon as needed. V is great in times like these and will know exactly how to be there for her, of this I have no doubt. When we finally see A, I hope I do right by her – whether it be acting like an idiot to make her laugh (clearly my specialty is acting like an idiot), listening, or just going about as we normally would.

I am truly sorry that this has happened and I honestly wish I could make it better for them. A, please know that you and your family have constantly been in our thoughts and that we are here for you whenever you need us.

The Babymoon

FalooÔĽŅ, take a nice look at the photo above.  Take it all in, the perspective from which I took this shot, the surroundings, everything.  Now tell me, what comes to mind?  If you say my hairy legs, you’re grounded for life.  This is the southern coast of Barbados, the location your mom and I chose for a babymoon.  In other words, this is perhaps the only time you’ll ever be the source of peace, relaxation, and pleasure for the rest of our lives.  I kid I kid, there’s a chance that one day, when you’re 50 and I’m 85, you’ll send me off on an all-expenses paid vacation to some island so that I get out of your hair for a few days.  I’ll take it.

Seriously though this IS our babymoon.  What’s a babymoon?  It’s basically an excuse for people expecting a baby to take a trip and spend money and blame it on an unborn human being because he or she cannot fight back.  Don’t feel bad though, I promise you that we’ll do the same thing if/when your siblings are on their way.

So far the trip has been awesome.  We are staying at the Oceans Two resort and the staff has been incredibly nice.  I would actually recommend this place to anyone looking to travel to the islands for a getaway.  I can already see us coming back here sometime in the future.

Anyway, as I sit here, let me take a moment to tell you how excited we are that you’ll be joining us soon.  We spent a weekend in Atlanta with friends, all of whom have kids, right before coming to Barbados.  While their mornings and days were certainly hectic at times, there were moments when their time with their kids were extremely precious.   Little things like a tired child looking to rest in his or her parents arms or the pure laughter of a happy baby are things that make them smile.  They make me smile too – not just because it’s an adorable moment, but because I know one day I’ll be smiling at the same things when my kids do them.

You’re probably rolling your eyes right now in embarrassment of my sappiness. But let’s put that aside for a moment and be totally honest.  If nothing else, you (meaning all my kids) are my most substantial contribution to this world.   And I’ll have spent much of my lifetime concerned about your wellbeing and your development.  No person can ever truly be successful at something if his heart isn’t into it.  And my heart is into your development – just like it is my job, my marriage, and my relationships.   I’ll always feel a sense of pride in your successes and a sense of introspection in your failures.

So, if you see me smiling at you, know that it’s not because I’m your creepy old dad.  If I seem upset or frustrated with you after you make a stupid mistake, it’s not because I like you less – it’s because I’m invested in you and your life.  I would be equally upset or frustrated with myself if I had done the same thing; it doesn’t mean you need to fear us when you have a problem.  In the meantime, I look forward to watching you grow – physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I’m excited to relax with you in my arms when you’re a baby, teach you to take your first basketball shot or solve your first math problem, and advise you on what we feel are life’s greatest paradoxes (and tell you what paradoxes means when you read this).

Let me end this by saying that these are the thoughts of someone who doesn’t yet have a child.  While I believe them to be true, it’ll be interesting to see how much of this changes after you come along and test my every belief.   I have no doubt that I’ll someday have a blog entry titled, “My Child is a Monster.” For now though, you’ve given me this:

ÔĽŅ

(No I don’t mean the old man in red)

Faloo it is…

So your mother was right (that’s probably a line I’ll be using for many years to come)…you’re a boy (Please call me immediately if this revelation is a surprise to you)!  I think I mentioned earlier that I thought you’d be a girl and she thought you’d be a boy.  If I didn’t, well there it is. 

The appointment was this past Tuesday at the hospital.  Honestly, these ultrasound moments are so great – pure joy on our faces as we get to look at you.  You might not appreciate this until you’re in our shoes but it really is amazing to see the very existence of your child appear right before your eyes!

Anyway, you’re at about 11 ounces now.  In fact you’re big enough that they no longer measure you from head to rump but instead use a number of measurements to come up with a weight.  We actually saw some arms, hands, and legs pretty clearly this time as the tech focused in on different parts of you.  They even tried to do a 3D ultrasound for us but we couldn’t get a good view of your face.  Being the son of a punk like me, I bet you thought you were being funny.  We’ll have to work on your sense of humor ūüėČ

Before the ultrasound started we asked that the tech not tell us what sex you are.  Your mom had a pretty good idea actually – have them place the answer in an envelope and, later that night, we would open it while on a Google Hangout* with the rest of our family (your grandparents and aunts/uncles).  

Anyway that night we held the Hangout – your Kaka and I thought you’d be a girl; your mom, her dad, and my mom thought you’d be a boy.  Just FYI, my dad and your mom’s mom did not guess – they just said they wanted a healthy baby (I think that’s a cop out – obviously we all want you to be healthy!).  Anyway, the whole thing was a bit of a crazy affair.  Your grandparents (mom’s side) somehow shut the sound off on their computer so they couldn’t hear us. We ended up keeping them on the phone also but, by doing that, our voices caused an echo every time we spoke.  To any other children of mine reading this,  I can promise you that next time we’ll do something a bit simpler.

Of course we have more ultrasound pics but I won’t be posting these here.

Alright people, I’m going to wrap this up.  We have been sitting on a flight for the past hour after a crazy day of weather and delays trying to get to Atlanta.  Unfortunately your mom isn’t even sitting next to me (I guess that means she and Faloo are not next to me). Flight should be taking off soon – I just hope it goes smoothly/safely.  My next post will likely be related to (or from) Barbados!

*I have no idea when you’ll read this so let me explain what a Hangout is.  In our day, people could video chat in a group on an app called Hangouts.  No these are not holograms and the quality isn’t HD (or 4K or whatever you get) but it’s pretty reasonable.  Admittedly we had some trouble getting your grandparents to use it properly…it was kind of funny actually.

Finalizing Your Second First Name

I just wanted to let you know that this weekend, Valentine’s Day wknd and the anniversary of my first date with your mother, we finalized our names for you.¬† Why names (plural)?¬† Because we don’t yet know if you’re a boy or a girl so we had to pick both.¬† Assuming nothing changes, the one that doesn’t go to you may very well go to your sibling (if he/she is of the opposite sex).

We spent tonight (V-day night) hanging out with your Masi and Masa (henceforth known as N and P) and a couple of their friends who have recently moved into town. ¬†Well, they’re our friends too but we know them through N. Anyway, if you didn’t know, N and I actually like the same name for our sons – Arjun. ¬†Both of us have similar reasons for this.

Growing up, my brother and I were really into some of the stories of Hinduism – namely the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. ¬†The latter is a story of 5 brothers (the Pandavas) and their exploits in battling their cousins for a kingdom. ¬†I’m totally paraphrasing here as there is a lot of religion and philosophy dictated throughout the story but, as kids, we were initially attracted to the plot and the high level principles that we could comprehend. ¬†Arjun is the middle of these 5 brothers and the one who is a skilled archer and warrior. ¬†In other words, he’s pretty badass (don’t use that word until you’re in college). ¬†I was instantly drawn to the character for his abilities with the bow, his general storyline, and his relationship with Krishna.

Lord Krishna, as I hope you know, is one of our Gods – an incarnate of Lord Vishnu. ¬†In the Mahabharat, he is an uncle of the Pandavas and advisor to Arjun during this war. ¬†It is on the first day of the war, immediately before fighting begins, when Krishna dictated the Bhagvad Gita to Arjun. ¬† This is a moment when Krishna reveals his divinity to Arjun; these words have been documented in a book that people colloquially refer to as the “Hindu Bible”.

While Krishna is the God in the story, I always loved Arjun’s character. ¬†Naming you Arjun (if you are a boy) would be meaningful to me in 3 ways – it would be a reference to our religion, it would be a reference to my childhood, and I love the name. ¬†Unfortunately, your mom prefers to name you something else. ¬†While she likes the name “Arjun”, she prefers something different. ¬†She did, however, agree to keep this as your middle name. ¬†Honestly, this was a pretty great gesture on her part.

Meanwhile, some time ago I thought of the sounds I really like in names – ones that I think make a name sound nice. ¬†Putting some of these sounds together, I mentioned a name…and your mom liked it! ¬†Today, she mentioned it to P and N – they liked it as well. ¬†In fact, P said that the name “spoke to her”. ¬†You’ll have to ask her what that means exactly but it’s clearly a good sign ūüôā ¬†I obviously really like the name as well and, so, we agreed that this would be your name!

You’re probably wondering why this post is all about what your name would be if you are a boy, not if you are a girl. ¬†Well the truth is that your mom has had a name in mind for a girl for years. ¬†She told me about it a long time back and I loved it too. ¬†As a result, there was never any debate and, if¬†you’re a girl, it’s likely that this name will be yours.

Now, as a disclaimer, we are still months away from your birth and anything can change.  Still, I wanted to remember (and tell you about) the time we finalized (I think) what your name will be.

Your First First Name

To this point I¬†haven’t been¬†sure what to call you, my first child in-the-making. ¬†Labels like that are, quite frankly, too long to repeat until you’re actually born. ¬†Instead your Masa (mother’s sister’s husband) gave me a good idea for your name, based off of another idea that I had. ¬†I’ll have to adjust it slightly, since I don’t want to use¬†our actual names, for now at least. ¬†Instead, I’m going to use my screen name (MrAloo) to adjust the name for this site. ¬†Let me warn you, this name is not endearing. ¬†It’s actually pretty terrible and very funny – at least to me. ¬†So, are you ready to hear your first name, the one before your actual name? ¬†You sure? ¬†…Positive? ¬†Well, it’s Faloo.

Why Faloo? ¬†Because¬†it’s Fetus + Aloo; what you are + 1/2 of what made you (i.e. me! ). ¬†How could I name you something so ridiculous? ¬†Because it’s funny and it annoys your mother (and right now, probably you as well). ¬†To be fair, I offered her Fetus + Her Name but she refused…so you’re stuck with my name. ¬†And since no one can stop me from saying this on my blog, it’s going to stick. So…

Hello Faloo ūüôā

Faloo’s First Foto (I couldn’t resist)

Things have changed so much between when I was your age (and by “your age” I mean 47 days in the oven) and now. ¬†My first photo is one from the hospital after I was born; the same can be said for your mom and all of your aunts and uncles. ¬†YOUR first photo was taken today, 47 days into your development. ¬†You just might be the cutest splotch of white I’ve ever seen on paper…I can see your mother’s resemblance in you.Faalap_6w5d

To my unborn child.

Today I learned that you exist! ¬†Ok, that’s not entirely true…I guess my first written words to you are a lie. ¬†See, today is actually February 18, 2015. ¬†While I’ve had the thought of writing to you for a while, it wasn’t until today that I finally had (and made) the time to do so.

While it’s been some time since the Thursday night I learned of your existence, I want to capture it here. ¬†It was a late night at work and I got a call from your mother. ¬†She sounded different than usual – like something was going on and she had an ulterior motive to her typical question of when I’d be home. ¬†Once I mentioned that it would be a late night, she asked me to call her back…in private.

Obviously at this point I ran out of the team room I work in and into an office. There she told me about how the pregnancy test came back positive…she thought. ¬†Honestly, all I can remember is the huge grin that appeared on my face and refused to leave. ¬†We’d been hoping that you would come around soon and the thought that you might actually have made your presence known to us was thrilling. ¬†There are a few moments of pure joy you will feel in your life ¬†– the kind of joy reserved for milestones in your life; when you know things will never be the same again. ¬†This is the joy I felt about you that night, knowing that our worlds – your mother’s and mine – would never be the same again.

So much for getting any work done that night.

You’re probably asking yourself why I’m creating this blog. ¬†Well, I enjoy writing but I haven’t had something to write about or someone to write to…at least not until you came along. ¬†I realized, sometime after that Thursday night I learned about you, that this is no longer true. ¬†I want to write to you – let you into my head a bit. ¬†You’ll probably (hopefully) know me in many ways – through the voice in which I teach, the voice in which I joke, the voice in which I yell (let’s be honest, I’m human) – but you won’t hear the voice in which I think, at least not until you have the opportunity to read this blog.

This blog isn’t just dedicated to you. ¬†It’s for your future brother(s) and sister(s), assuming you have them. ¬†While you have the honor of being the first, I know I’ll be just as excited to see them come along…not to mention better prepared!

I’m playing catch-up so I apologize for the false dating of some of these posts but hopefully I will be on point soon. ¬†In the meantime I hope you enjoy what I write – my thoughts about you, about life, about the future…really about anything. ¬†It’s why I call this blog Untamed Thoughts.