I have a vague notion of what it was like before I married and had a family. But it’s blurry, and seems like so long ago. As in the 1986 version of The Fly, I have changed. Not into a fly, per se, although I do wonder about this sometimes when I see Juliet’s saliva dissolving just about everything it touches. We also communicate in clicks and clacks, and, come to think of it, she does have googly eyes.
But no, the change I talk about is much more subtle and not as physically dramatic. As I mention in another post, it’s as if I have stepped through a portal. There is the me before fatherhood, and the me now. This major shift in my psyche includes a loss of my sense of self. My identity is no longer defined by who I am, but who WE are, WE being my myself, my wife, and my two daughters. The family unit. We move as one, like some fantastic amoeba oozing its’ way across the great petri dish of life. Our movements are coordinated, our actions, even our thoughts, seem somehow connected, like some synchronous hive mind.
I should have seen this coming when I fell in love. For the first time in my life I felt a true sense of selflessness. It wasn’t just about me anymore, it was about us. We became “a couple”. We COMPROMISED.
And now, what affects one of us in the family affects us ALL. We huddle closely together for warmth, and sing in harmony. We are stretched when we separate. My mood can be directly linked to my family at any given moment. It is something sacred and silly at the same time. We are the world.
This is a powerful feeling. I am no longer alone in life. I feel safe, secure, and confident, because I know, wherever I go, that I have a family to return to. I am part of a small community, part of something larger than myself.
At times I have wanted to run away from my family, my village, to shed the collective, like the theme from countless movies. I yearn for breathing room, to be alone for awhile, free and unencumbered. It is at these moments when I suddenly feel so naked and scared, as if I have just taken off a large, heavy wool coat in the middle of a snowy New York winter. Once cozy, warm, and ensconced, I am now independent and wild, and I scramble to remember how to act. I feel rusty and awkward. It is not the same feeling as before, back before family, when I was single. I wonder how I ever did it, how did I operate in the world all alone.
I have learned to cherish those brief, quiet moments, but more and more, nothing can compare to the joy and freedom I feel when I am with my family.