When a kid who is too short to sit in the front seat sits in the front seat, something smart happens.
It’s a transformation. She gains intelligence, introspection, and social awareness. In the backseat, it’s about coloring books and snacks. In the front seat, it’s about fine art and social issues.
It happened when I let Grace sit in the front so we could fit her bike in the backseat.
“Why does it have to be gay marriage?” she asked after she rode alongside me to wrap up week 1 of Couch to 5K. “Can’t it just be marriage?” (to paraphrase singer P!nk, and echo sentiments she heard from her big sis.)
We’d spent all morning fishing, then went for a run/ride in the park.
Then she asked, “who was Picasso’s friend who died? That’s when he started his blue period.”
That would be Carlos Casagemas. Picasso’s blue/green paintings, were melancholy and monochromatic. They marked a period of depression and withdrawal after Casagemas’ death.
Picasso’s Rose Period followed, a time of cheerful oranges and pink. Harlequins replaced beggars in Picasso’s work. Picasso’s sun rose again.
Is it like that for us?
Can I look back on a decade or year or week and see it as blue or rose?
In a blue period, would I quit my blog?
Looking back … I see purple. Between blue and rose.
A crappy day starts with a shitty morning. Lots of traffic. You leave your work badge on the kitchen table, or toss your lunch in the garbage by accident. You spilled your Coke Zero all over your right pant leg in the car, and you smell funny the rest of the day. But don’t notice until you’re in a meeting.
Your day is blue. Right?
You might post it on Facebook, and get the love and support and likes from family and friends. Maybe you’ll get a bible verse of a cat meme. Hang in there!
My blues haven’t been true blue. Many roses haven’t been vibrant. Again, purple. My dad died in the middle of August, when the NFL preseason wound down. Marie was born not even three months earlier, on a sunny November morning.
Was she a rose spot in a blue period, or was his death a blue spot in a rose?
To claim either way would be an injustice. To them both.
What if I quit this blog? I don’t say this to fish for “no, don’t quit! We love you!” comments. Not at all. I just discovered a blog recently in which the writer said goodbye. Not because life was blue. But because it was rose. Kind of.
It was a travel blog, and she was grounded at the moment. Happily.
I found it a few months too late.
The blog world will go on. Her space on your Feedly? It’ll go to someone new. I find new blogs every day, new writers to reach out to for 6 words contributions. I also have those who knew me when I first started. What color was that period?
The numbers were down, but I had fun.
The numbers are up now, but sometimes down. Some days, I get an email. I’m a good balance in the inbox when dads go bad. Some days, I get silence. Most days, there’s something. These words are for the kids, for someday.
An important part.
It’s impossible to find blue and rose periods at Coach Daddy. Because every day might have a little of both. I will call it my Purple Period. It could go from deep Chicago Maroon to periwinkle. Who am I to know? I’m a dude. Dudes paint with eight colors. One is purple, though. Maroon or periwinkle. It’s still purple.
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“Isn’t fly fishing dangerous?”
“What do worms eat?”
“Why do so many Chinese restaurants have the word ‘China’ in the name?”
These questions and more poured out as we fished on a gorgeous Saturday morning. I looked back on it, after Grace put the idea of color periods in my head. Which was this? Seemed rosy. But, we didn’t catch a thing. We lost a hook.
Don’t tell mom, but … we got a line stuck in a powerline. And we had to make do when we lost our weights.
We were here because of a spirited hallelujah, and a bet I made on Easter.
“When church ends,” I told Grace, “I dare you to say “Hah-ley-LOO-yah!” as loud as you can.” She used to do this in our old church. The pastor would scowl.
Easter Sunday, she balked. No outburst.
On Quasimodo Sunday, one week later, it happened. Grace got applause. And she told me, “now you have to take me fishing! And if you don’t … ” She ran her thumb across her throat. True.story.
That fishing morning, the fish nibbled, but didn’t take the bait. But we heard woodpeckers. We saw geese in a domestic dispute. “I wonder what he did wrong,” Grace wondered aloud, assuming the boy goose was in hot water. We found fish nests. We didn’t hear sirens or rap music.
Those clever sunfish nipped at our worms under water.
When we switched to flies, the worms in our bucket found an 11th-hour reprieve.
We had Powerade and Zero Cola and a bag that might or might not have contained sugar wafers in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. We had a breeze and sun on our faces. We had nowhere to be but there. Without bites.
But without hooks stuck in fingers. Just in jeans.
Years ago, I found myself on a lakeshore like this. Brokenhearted. Some silly girl I adored had decided to do something fun on a Saturday with a boy who wasn’t me. I cast a line and felt distant. Helpless.
A cup of worms and a far-off lake seemed a weak retort to his kind of fun.
So I sat.
And I waited. And I listened. That burn began to fade. I couldn’t call her. Damn. I couldn’t call her. Good. He’ll muck it up anyway. I don’t know how many casts it took, but, that spot at the lake became the place to be. When you fish, the only counting you do is … fish.
Rose swept into the blue that day. Or did blue interrupt my rose?
“Is a girl goose green, or is that in ducks?”
“So, people eat whales?”
“If you run a red light, will you go to jail?”
The day became a golden age of questions.
I took a turn at a local park for the last day of my first week of Couch to 5K. Guess who wanted to come with? And bring her bike. This is how she wound up in the front seat, to speak of gay marriage and Picasso’s periods.
She’d speed ahead, then loop around the figure 8, to find me. In week 1, you warm up with a 5-minute walk. You run just 60 seconds. You walk for 90. Repeat, until you’ve finished 20 minutes. Ease into it, lad, as my friend Will would say. I am.
And in some 60-second bursts, I feel broken down and creaky.
Like Jesse Owens.
Grace kept pace as I walked, then kicked it up on my blistering 12-minute-mile pace. “We should do this every day,” she said. Yes. Well, three times a week. Oh, you mean, run and bike at the park? I’d love that.
To blog three times a week is good. It fits right now. Whatever period this is.
It’s hard to see the blue or the rose. There’s a Crayola color now called Purple Mountains Majesty. Purple People Eaters didn’t make the cut. We’ve invented shades of purple.
My Colorado Rockies are black, purple and silver. My mom’s maiden name, Morado, means … purple.
It’s everywhere. And I think it keeps me in the middle.
It keeps me from arrogance on a good day. It keeps me from despair when things don’t make sense. We need blues, though. We need days we catch no fish. We might not need mysteries we don’t understand, but we can thrive anyway.
We need Pandora to play a song that makes you want and check the lyrics.
So you can nod your head. Like it’s written for you.
I think, though, it’s best not to look at those lyrics.
Maybe it’s best to just hear the song, feel it, nod while you’re listening. Then wait. See what’s spun next. John Mayer might lead to Red Hot Chili Peppers. Or Avicii.
And there will always be the questions.
“What does USO mean?”
“What are those colorful fish Piscine Patel apologized to before he killed it?”
“What’s the last stage of a tadpole, before it’s a frog?”
The questions don’t stop. And they’re rose. Every one. Even the sad ones. Even when the baby asks, “would you die for me, daddy?”
And that’s why my blog will go on. My travels aren’t over.
They’ll take on shades of mulberry to KSU Purple to Mardi Gras. They’ll bounce close to the blue and on the edge of rose, but they’ll go on. So I’m here. As the clock approaches midnight and my bed calls. And so does the blog. It feels … rose.
The doing it does.
The thought of you reading this does, for sure.
The thought of the girls seeing it someday does, too.
This is what happens. When you sit in the front seat.