There was this girl who was sort of a groupie for the band I was in. The single life was beginning to wear on me, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. She was OK, but there weren't going to be any romance novels written about it; you know?

Maybe it was turning 30. That's a big moment a whole lot of you noders are going to have to deal with one day soon. Oh, yeah, it'll come sooner than you can realize. Can't you hear Time's Winged Vacuum Hoovering around your ears? Listen.

Anyway, I've been through living with one girl for six years and blowing that off, rather hastily, considering the time involved, I might say (now). Then I lived with another girl, off and on, for three years; I'm still haunted by that one. After that, just a series of girlfriends, chance acquaintances, fitful one-night stands.... You know all about all that, I guess. I hate details when it comes to this kind of stuff.

But this groupie girl and I have been going out for around a year, and she asks me to go with her to visit a married couple who are old friends of hers down in Gulf Shores, AL. I'm all up for a trip to the beach; who ain't?

We get there and he's a real nice guy; a dentist. The wife is a sweetheart who is pregnant with their second child. And there's this other thing in the house. A thing I am not quite used to. It's a little girl, around three years old. Her name is Sarah.

We stayed there around three or four days. Every time I'd be in a room alone (I like to be alone sometimes; don't you), here would come this little girl. She had a toy flute that was almost like a real flute. She'd play a little tune, and then she'd hand it to me and I'd play a little tune. She didn't say a whole lot, but she'd just look at me in a way that I'd never been looked at before. I could have drowned in those little eyes. The depth in there was enormous. She was stingy with the smiles, but those were another sort of marvel that took my breath away when they happened.

My entire life was changed in a way that it's never been changed before or since. It must have been the way some folks feel when they get Jesus. I had only one thing that I had to do now. I had to find a good woman to marry, and have a child, who would be a girl, and I would name her Sarah, and she would make it all right.

There was so much that needed to be made right in my sorry life.

Part Two

On becoming a parent.

Everyone says "sleep now"
Everyone says "it'll change your life"
Everyone says "just you wait"

What else are you going to do but wait?

And then it happens.

And you don't care that you don't get any sleep anymore, because when the Little Thing wakes you at one AM and at three AM and at four-thirty and at twenty till seven you see that this little person is the best thing in the world, and it makes you happy just to see it.

Even at 2 am.

...And you feel sorry for everyone else, because they can't have children as beautiful as this one. Because The Child is a little piece of perfect that just gets better every minute. It learns to smile and when it sees you come home it smiles because you're there. When it cries you just stare at it "Look at that brow as it lowers!", you think "Watch that tongue squirm and shudder! Listen to that yell! Those lungs are healthy!" and you don't care that it's been two months since you slept five hours in a stretch (you who thought you could never do with less than nine).

...And the work that was so life-threateningly important and so compelling is suddenly the last thing you want to do; you leave at Five and feel like you've cheated your child and your partner out of something by not leaving at Four.

Your spouse, always your friend, always your confidant is suddenly the same and so much more. Every moment is in stark relief; the simple chores of every day are recognized by the heroic efforts that are required to produce them despite fatigue and the gravitic attraction of the newest center of the universe.

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