Seven weeks in, and things are still completely surreal. Tonight, I found myself in the middle of one of those moments that I imagined myself having with her and remembering for the rest of my life. Like those stories you hear your parents or adults in your life tell you; you have no recollection of it happening, but they can retell it as if it happened the night before. As a person you have those moments anyway–moments that for reasons unknown, always stand out in your mind. I’ve had these moments as a father already, but the random, everyday moments that I know will stick with me forever come at unspecific intervals. Tonight I was the most certain that I was in the middle of one of those moments.
When I was asked prior to Blanche’s birth what I was most looking forward to, it was hard for me to imagine. How do you know? How did I know what things would feel the most powerful or rewarding, or through which activities we’d find the strongest connection? People want specifics, and are annoyed equally by the ‘Everything!’ and ‘I don’t know!’ answers. So when asked, I fell back on one of the things I am passionate about, and one of the few things that I have very specific childhood memories of: music.
I would tell them I was excited to sing to Blanche, to dance with her, to play her the music most meaningful to me. To help her understand music, its history, its importance in culture. How euphoric a song can make you feel, how rhythm unlocks your body, how a melody makes you tingle. I learned these things when I was growing up, listening to Beethoven, Prince, the Beatles, Schubert, the Replacements. And though I don’t remember the moments, I hear an Elvis Costello song, or a Mozart overture, and know that I have known that piece since before I had memories.
Certainly Blanche won’t remember tonight, and maybe she won’t remember how she stared into my eyes as we danced in the kitchen, to Yeasayer, OK Go, the New Pornographers and the rest of the music of the moment. Perhaps she won’t hear The National on the radio fifteen years from now and think, ‘Where have I heard that song before?’
I’m not counting on tonight being a major moment in her life. But it was in mine. I felt a real connection tonight; something I could communicate to my daughter as important and fulfilling. A moment where nothing else in the world existed, only her tiny body in my arms, in my kitchen, swaying and singing along with the radio.
I know I’ll be singing to and dancing with her for many years. Years and years from now, when she’s grown up, and expecting her first child, maybe I’ll tell her about tonight’s singing and dancing. Perhaps tonight’s moment will remain forever as one of the clearest and most special of my time with her. Maybe I’ll play her some of the songs I sang to her, some of the bands we swayed to. Maybe one melody will trigger a hidden memory, like they did for me. It’s chilling to even imagine.