It’s been three months or so since I gave Liam his first guitar. It’s an Epiphone Les Paul Express, in tobacco sunburst. A flat-top solid body electric that’s sized for smaller players at ¾ scale. He was thrilled and very proud of it. He’s taking surprisingly good care of it, too. The guitar hangs from the headstock on a hook on the wall behind the chair.
Already, he’s making some easy chords and is picking single notes and moving between strings pretty proficiently. He plays it several times a day, in total at least an hour a day and usually more, all of his own volition. It helps I got Rocksmith, a guitar training “game” put out for the Xbox and Playstation. You plug a real electric guitar into it, and it rates your playing. I got an old Xbox 360 from my brother that was his back in college, and Rocksmith is the only game we’ll probably ever have for it (good thing). I’m learning to play using the game alongside him, although I’ve learned one song years ago, which my fingers have forgotten how to play by now.
It occurred to me while driving – doesn’t all profound thinking happen behind the wheel? Unless you’re luckier than me and get to sit at the base of a tree or on a rotting log with any regularity – I don’t make enough time for that. It occurred to me while driving that Liam is making awesome progress for such a short time playing. He’s showing daily focus on playing guitar. He’s almost as good as I am already (which may not even be a compliment), and it’s only been about three months.
So much has changed in the past three months. So much.
In the same spot where Katie spent so much time sitting on the floor while nine months pregnant, sorting the hardwood floor boards in preparation for me to nail them, we now have a finished floor and a couch. The pull-out couch where we slept after returning home with our baby, since we did not have a bed yet.
Where there was only a hastily-set toilet in the bathroom, installed in response to our camper completely freezing solid in a bitter cold “snap” that ended up lasting two weeks, we now have a finished bathroom with a deep tub, tile shower walls and floor, mirror cabinets and enough towel racks for everybody. There’s even a door now.
Over the spot in the hardwood floor where we laid some really bad quality boards, unsure we would have enough nice ones, we now have a black store-bought hearth and an antique wood stove that heats the whole house perfectly. Eventually, I’ll dry-lay some old solid brick for the hearth.
We have kitchen cabinets, countertops, and a refrigerator. There’s a gas line to the range we found cheap on Craigslist, simply connected to a grill tank outside. The paint-splattered porcelain kitchen sink I found in someone’s trash pile is now mostly clean of paint and installed in front of the kitchen window. We wash dishes while just staring out the window at the woods and fields beyond, watching the woodpeckers work, chickens scratch, and hawks soar.
Of course, the biggest news is the birth of our little girl, Caroline. She was born March 1, in quite a hurry. Katie had an incredibly, painfully fast labor. So quick that the doctor left us, planning to check on things in a couple hours, and when she returned, the baby had been born. The nurse was hollering down the hall for a doctor, but I completely didn’t see the point of trying to get a doctor where there was none to be found. A random doctor was trying to suit up while Caroline was born into my hands. I had planned to catch her all along.
After such an emotional labor and birth, I feel such an incredible bond with my baby. I can tell Caroline feels it too. We worked and read and prepared and researched so much to achieve our goal of a completely natural birth, so when she was born, after Katie achieved our goal, it was such an incredible release. Katie and I grew much closer during this pregnancy and birth, and I’m so thankful for it. We were close, and quite happy, but now… it’s different. My company recently started extending parental leave benefits (time off) to all parents – adoptive, biological, gay, whatever – which I wholeheartedly applaud. I received three weeks paid leave, which I extended a little using vacation time. It was such a needed break with my family, for everyone, after having moved into our house only about two or three weeks before the baby arrived. We learned how we live in the house and how the house works, all together.
I recently found my first guitar in storage in the barn for a couple years, and brought it back to the house. It’s a modern plywood Hohner, a beginner’s classical acoustic. No worse for wear, even with a little pigeon shit on the pressboard and vinyl case. Liam was very excited to see I had another guitar, and since the kids had found a harmonica recently as well, we formed a band, and decided to put on a show. Emmie played harmonica, Liam his guitar, and I mine. I was reluctant at first to “play” the guitar since I don’t know any songs. But soon, I started just banging on the strings and making noise as they did. We played our show with abandon, and I realized just how cathartic it can be, just making noise for the hell of it.
Jumping right in without caring who is watching.