IT WAS BACK ON THE ROAD last Saturday, this time to Jersey City, across the wide Hudson from the great magnetic rock. No more sleeping in a snowbank or wrenching on motorcycles, it’s baby duty now. D1’s all-too-brief maternity leave is over, bite me Wall Street, and there’s a seven-day gap to fill before daycare starts. Daycare as insanely expensive as college.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. One Nation Under Mammon, shareholder value trumps all. What a system. No slumping over the oars, you mothers. (So to speak.)
I was hoping for motorcycle weather. Which it wasn’t. Four wheels balance better in the snow. I snapped this shot around 4 a.m. on the road south.
Lit by overhead lights here, snow’s more apparent.
Arrived in time for breakfast in the big city. This is I-78. I’m grabbing the last exit before it dumps you into the Holland Tunnel.
Here’s D1D1 geared up for our first stroller-walk around the Hamilton Park neighborhood. Chilly!
Our second walk a day later. She slept through the entire ride, a bouncy one over slate sidewalks. I snapped this pic just as she awoke with a sidelong look and a bit of a start.
Oh. It’s… It’s you again…
…the homeless old man who sleeps on our floor.
A proper New Yorker, D1D1 checks the door as D1 arrives home from work. May I see a photo I.D.?
Before Saturday I hadn’t changed a diaper in 28 years. Before the next grandchild arrives I hope Elon Musk turns his attention to wireless nano sensors woven into diaper fabric. It would be nice to get regular status reports via text.
Just a fart
Sucks to be you
Some of the diapers I reckoned with this week would alter the course of history if you could flux capacitor them back in time. Hurled in anger at the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, 1787? We might still be Brits.
Farther back, say, 5th century, the Huns discover one at a rest stop in the Caucasus, they turn right around, the Western Roman Empire holds, there’s no predicting how the world spins after that.
Tell you what, caring for a baby is terrifying. Hats off to the moms. On my first day here I gave myself a stress headache by holding my breath and clenching my jaw every time I picked the little girl up. Whew! What a cortisol spike. But then I relaxed into it and the long-lost skills of early fatherhood came back.
May have mentioned this before, but I get no stress reaction on the road no matter how close I come to a motorman’s fate. Truck wanders into my lane head-on, I move over as far as I can, mirror goes by my helmet at a closing speed of 130mph… I get nothing… no adrenalin pump, no change in heartbeat or respiration rate.
If I were to watch a fellow rider avoid the same threat my heart would be jackhammering against my ribs. But if it’s my gloves on the grips, my boots on the pegs, all systems stand down, I’ve got this.
I’ve got this. Control, right? Stress is all about control.
Who’s in control when you’re minding a baby?—The BABY!
Even so, D1D1 and I had a good time this week. We’ve got our routine down. We look at cards with animals on them, we look at books. I found I still know how to make coffee while holding a baby on my hip. We sway around and sing while she’s nodding off to nappy time.
She likes Dion, she likes The Drifters…
I’ve sung her all the baby songs I know, like this old classic:
This is why people OD on pills
from the Golden Gate Bridge
This verse is her favorite:
Those poor lost Indians
when the white man found them
Most died of TB
The Handsome Family sings it better than I can here.
Also worth noting, she digs all the baby songs recorded by the Righteous Brothers. She giggles madly when I give her the Bobby Hatfield baby baby, first one baritone, second one falsetto:
Looks as if I’m watching over D1D1 as she sleeps. Not so. I’m asleep, too. SO1 snapped this pic.
I didn’t have much to do with the outside world this week. Funny how a baby pulls you into her orbit. I did monitor and briefly contribute to a motorcycling conversation between CCjon in Texas and KH in Oregon, my pals from the Alaska boat. CCjon was recounting how he wrecked in southern Mexico once, got blown off the road by high winds and cracked an engine case, or an engine case cover I guess it was, had to limp the bike home to the States weeping oil all the way.
I chimed in with: Yow. Been through winds like that in the Imperial Valley, and in the Carolinas once, during a tornado watch. It was like riding around with your head clamped in a pneumatic paint-can shaker.
And then I bowed out, went silent. D1D1 and I had been through so many baby books I feared I might, apropos of nothing, blurt out something that would strip me of my road cred, like, skit skat skoodle doot flip flop flee, everybody running to the coconut tree.
Five days down, two to go starting Monday.
On the scoreboard as of now: Baby 5, Tone zip.
Tony DePaul, March 27, 2015, Jersey City, NJ