Driving West Side Highway. With Chip off the Old Block (not).

It’s 5:40 a.m. An early jump to beat the morning rush to mid-town Manhattan. I’m in a 50 mph zone, and traffic is blowing by me as if I were standing still. No matter. I’m not chasing them, not today.  I’m on the West Side Highway. Manhattan condo’s tower overhead on my left. Hudson River flows silently on my right. Sun is rising and casting a dreamy glow over all things. Passages from Richard Powers’ new book (The Overstory) flick through consciousness:  It’s morning like the morning when life first came up on dry land.

And the mind panned from Now to yesterday. From Richard to Rachel. To my Rachel.

Rachel’s birthday was yesterday. She took the day off and came home. “You don’t expect me to work on my birthday do you Dad?” With Mom and Dad both working, she was going to spend the day alone at home. Now that doesn’t seem right.  I cancelled meetings, worked from home and scheduled lunch with Rachel at the Rowayton Seafood restaurant.

She orders the Lobster Roll (butter poached with lemon on brioche). Plus fries. Dad orders the blackened salmon on a bed of corn, tomatillo and asparagus. Plus fries.

Waitress asks her if she’d like a glass of wine with lunch. “No Thank you. Ice water would be great.” I watched her interaction with the waitress, her unfolding of her napkin and placing it on her lap, her straightening her dress over her knees, her ease in the surroundings, her comfort in her own skin. Wow. Look at what you’ve become.

I managed to avoid offering beauty tips on hair color (snow white), the number of wrist bracelets (many) and the number of earrings (many). Tanned, wearing a tasteful sundress that she found in a budget shop in Manhattan, she was glowing. Strange. You managed not to pollute a wonderful lunch playing Dad to your 26 year old daughter.  Well done. Conscious?  No. Strangely, it all seemed right. She seemed all right, very right.

We’re in the car on the way home and she’s talking about the family trip to Michigan later in the month. Her love of travel. Her genuine anticipation for the trip. And then there’s her Dad, sitting next to her.  Quiet. Thinking. Same genes. Same bloodline. She surging into Prime. You’re on the backside of it. A tweak of envy, she’s passing you by and then some.

The prospect of travel (for me, eight miles from home to the Rowayton Seafood Restaurant or to Michigan three hours by flight) is described by Joseph Epstein as “more effort than pleasure” – and akin to “Philip Larkin who when asked if he wished to visit China, answered yes, indeed, if he could return home that night.”

We pull up to the driveway at home. I feel the pressure lifting, the unease burning off.

She reaches over to give me a kiss on the cheek.  “Thanks for lunch Dad. It was great.”

Home Sweet Home.


Notes:

  • Post inspired by Zach Baron, from “In Praise of Being Washed” (GQ, July 2, 2018): “They’re all attempts to remedy the same thing that plagued me at 16, and at 25: Relax. All Friday afternoon, in increasingly strident tones, I am telling myself: Relax… I think about all the dumb Fridays in my life. High school: drugs. College: alcohol. Twenties: Let’s not talk about what any of us did in our 20s. And now the dumb Fridays of my present arise in front of my windshield—all my flaws, my corny pastimes, the great things I’ve left undone and will never do. I…am consumed with thoughts about how some other, younger version of myself would be so terribly disappointed at what I’ve become. But what I mostly think is:Damn, I wish I’d known about this earlier. And in that moment, I finally relax.”
  • Photo: Rowayton Seafood Restaurant

Comments

  1. great post; glad to hear Rachel is doing so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was jealous but father/daughter dates are important – especially on such a momentus occasion!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. …just lovely! how wonderful to simply enjoy all there is to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aren’t you the lucky dad, reaping the rewards of your efforts over all the years?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Passing you by and then some”

    Happy Birthday to your Rachel 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Olga Kanigan says:

    Happy Birthday Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Evans, Pat says:

    How are you? You are one of the best leaders I served!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happiest of happy birthdays, Rachel…may each day best the one before it..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mission accomplished, dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We each have our paths to follow. We try to teach our kids what we can about life, knowing they will learn lots outside of us. It’s what we really want, isn’t it? Isn’t it wonderful to see how far they have come? And father-daughter dates are almost as good as mother-son ones 😉 Such a lovely thing when the even want to spend time with us.
    Happy birthday to your Rachel…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great post! Happy birthday to Rachel!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “You don’t expect me to work on my birthday do you Dad?” Laughing. My daughters are exactly the same. In fact, working full time is not an option. A new generation, a new age of thinking. Perhaps it’s not such a silly idea. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agree Karen. This generation is wired differently and good that they are. Reminds me of:

      “But I’m temperamentally unable to mimic my father’s succeed-at-all-costs immigrant mind-set, an instinct I share with most of my generation. And maybe that marks our immigrant parents’ ultimate triumph: We have become American. As part of the American parenting mainstream, I aim to raise children who are happy, confident and kind — and not necessarily as driven, dutiful and successful as the model Asian child. If that means the next generation will have fewer virtuoso violinists and neurosurgeons, well, I still embrace the decline.”

      ~ Ryan Park, The Last of Tiger Parks (The New York Times, June 22, 201

      Liked by 2 people

  13. One of the positives coming out of my wife’s passing is that I have spent the last 3 months with my 29 year old daughter under the same roof. That’s longer than at any other time of her life. It is joyous getting to truly know her as we share this journey and rebuild our lives together. Every day I see something new and lovely in her. She is my new rock. Try and make excuses for more lunches with her David before it’s too late.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Oh, this is the BEST post ever (since I read you). And for your daughter Rachel you offered the very best gift you could offer….. YOUR TIME! I know that for the one & only reason as this is what I did with my long-gone dad. When he was still able to travel (within reason) and I didn’t have much money, I bought us both a day-pass for all travel means in Switzerland and I gave him ‘a day of my life’ for his birthday. It was the best b’day pressie ever EVER! I still live to tell the tales of that day. We repeated it – please do the same. Next time, if you can, take the full day off.
    You clearly have a well balanced, happy and focused daughter. Happy Birthday Rachel, it’s still valid 🙂 In my family, we have 3 coming up the next few days…. It’s a very good month, the month of July, for birthdays. All ‘my’ birthday jubilants (?) are wonderful great (and sometimes quite difficult but oh so rewarding) humans 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. No, it’s my mum, one of my sisters, and my son’s ‘woman of his life’ – plus a super dear friend, non family! – All those on the same day… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. and what a comfort and joy it is to watch that all unfold in our children. it is moments like these that make it all worthwhile and we know that no matter what we have or have not done, they will be just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes. Exactly Beth. Yes.

      Like

    • Beth; I firmly believe that it is so…. When my first marriage broke up (I saw it coming for years and years but didn’t believe I would walk away) I had not only my ex as ‘enemy’ but also our son. He swore he would never get married and I was the one with all the faults and failings, for a very long time.
      Now he is a happy, fulfilled, wonderful, caring and well-balanced person and he has obviously decided that he loves his mum. Took him a long, long time – now has a partner who is in so many ways the same as me that I can’t believe it. I always defended the conviction that every seed planted in a human, is carrying its fruit – one day…. It can take a looooong time, it can be a very fast ‘breeder’ but as sure as you can’t pluck apples from a pear tree, as sure that seed is growing and ‘comes to the light of the day’.
      Love

      Liked by 1 person

  17. “Wow. Look at what you’ve become.” – I know exactly how you felt, it’s an amazing thing to sit across from our children and to feel such admiration and such love. Yes, I know what you were feeling. Wonderful words as usual, David. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’ve said for years I don’t travel well. I just got back from Arkansas.
    I told my sister “No offense, I really did want to come see you and its nice, but I don’t travel well. I’ll stay 2 days, then I’m going home”.
    “Why don’t you travel well?” she asked
    “I guess because the minute I get to wherever it is I’m going, I’m anxious to get back home.”

    Love that Zach Baron quote.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is terrific, pal, and I suspect one of those memories that will be crystallized in your memory. Happiest of birthdays to Rachel–so glad that you were both able to mark her day in this special way.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. So beautiful, your words and I’m certain, your child.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. It makes me think of spending time with my dad when I was a young adult and how comfortable we were with each other. He was a cattle rancher and I a vegetarian but he always made sure we ate somewhere that catered to vegetarians. I was always touched by that. The father/daughter thing is so special.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Dave’s story telling.. the best. Happy Birthday Rachel!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Dave’s story telling. The best. Happy Birthday Rachel! oh boy, we are getting old.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. rakanigan says:

    Love you Dad

    Liked by 2 people

  25. It’s a trip learning to parent adult children. You’re doing well. Love your observations and your honesty. We are all so different. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Congratulations , on a wonderful daughter. You are a good father.
    I sometimes wonder when it was that our daughter turned into a woman. For I look at her and see many of the childish things I recognize. But to others she looks an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. congrats very much may u have a blessed life

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Rachel provided a prime example to celebrate her life with the family by not working and you followed through. Well done, Dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. How wonderful! And yes, well done, dad. I was getting anxious. Waiting for the shoe to drop. But nothing. I call that growth, man 🙂 Belated birthday wishes to Rachel from Stockholm!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Christie says:

    Full bloom…Glad she had a wonderful birthday! ///Our daughter had a wonderful birthday too…on the 9th…we went hiking along the water and up in the mountains…

    Liked by 1 person

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