This story is dedicated to every man who's ever lost his youth . . .
-just any guy, 1990
My name is unimportant. What's important is that I'm twenty-three years old. I've never liked kids for a day in my life, and now I'm walking home from a grocery store at five o'clock in the morning with a quart of formula for a crying baby.
New York looks different when a person's surviving on an average of two hours of sleep a night than when he's been lodging in peace in his own apartment. Although my eyes are slightly swollen and I can't remember the last time that I've washed the shirt that I'm wearing, I still manage glimpses of the orange strip of sunlight that lines the horizon. It's actually pretty. . .
. . . I can remember when I was still in college. It was only two years ago, so why wouldn't I remember? Anyway, while my major was political science, I spent most of my time late night partying. When I think back, it's actually kind of funny that two years after graduation I'm still up all night without any sleep, -although I never thought that I'd be up doing this.
Two years ago I was at the peak of my vigor - pre-marriage, pre-parenthood, twenty-one and fresh out of college . . .
Now I'm walking around town in my plaid pajama bottoms and a Yankee's cap from 1978, my hair sticky with sweat, and a three-day old growth of hair on my lower face; I can't remember the last time I took a shower - was it yesterday? From the looks of me it may as well have been last year.
. . . I can't remember exactly when or where we met, but Robyn and I fell in love at third sight. Wait. Now I remember. We met in May, at a bar in SoHo. She was looking for true love. Me? All I was looking for was a little fun. However, after the third date I just threw away all of my boyish morals, and gave in. Hey, love does that to a man.
Six months later we were married. Three months later she was pregnant, and now, exactly one year since our wedding, I'm walking the streets of New York at a most indecent, but I must say serene, hour of the day with formula in one hand, and a jar of apple sauce in the other.
The more that I think about it, this morning really is peaceful. I ought to do this more often. An early morning walk every day would probably be therapeutic; and there's a flock of pigeons congregating near a park bench that look as if they could use a bit of company. . .
. . . I glance at my watch. Hey, twenty minutes isn't bad for a five-block walk. I probably could have done that same distance in ten minutes a year ago. All of a sudden I'm starting to feel very old. I'm twenty-three. I've just spent four years of my life preparing myself for "the real world," and now I'm beginning to wonder how it is possible that a master's degree in political science will help me with my endeavors in the field of fatherhood. . .
. . . Is it September already? Where does the time go? I wonder what my old college friends are doing. It's unlikely, but wouldn't it be funny if they were also up right now doing the exact same thing I am. Maybe we all ought to go bowling. Actually, I really should call up Bobby. I wonder how Kenny turned out. . .
. . . I hear that Charlie stayed on for graduate school. He couldn't have studied enough. When he finished with Yale he just eased right into Columbia. Dusty talked a little about landing a job with some brokerage firm on Wall Street. Jamie, why he's got the best job of them all. He's playing right field for the Yankees. But you know Jamie. He was always a Red Sox fan. . .
. . . Well, I'm home now - 246 East 73rd Street. That's me. I really think that this walk helped. I'm going to really try and do this more often. Of course, with the baby up nights, it shouldn't be a problem.
There's Robyn. Poor thing. All I can think of is myself and having to buy a dumb can of formula at five in the morning. Robyn's got it much worse. She's got to stay home with a baby draped over her shoulder spitting up lunch on her. I shouldn't complain so much.
Fatherhood does strange things to a man. It might even make a man. I don't ever remember being so conscientious about life before. It's strange that I just brought this new person into the world (well, Robyn helped a little), and I'm just growing up myself.
I'm twenty-three. I'm on the brink of adulthood. By many peoples' standards I've already reached that peak. I work days. I'm home nights, every night. I've married a beautiful girl . . . and I've got this kid. Who knows what could happen tomorrow. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.