Keep Me Free From Birth

I’m walking through the cramped aisles of the used record store, shuffling through vinyl, searching for albums to add to my collection. George Harrison and Neil Young and Blondie are already tucked under my arm, awaiting their spins on my turntable, as I seek out additional treasures. It is a perfectly Portland Saturday afternoon, and by that I mean the rain is falling sideways in silver sheets, drumming out a staccato beat across the roof, pushed along by a gusty wind. This is umbrella weather, but Portland is not an umbrella town, so those hurrying by on the sidewalk outside are bundled up in jackets with hoods, a definite purpose in their step. I glance up and there is my daughter, scouring through the bins on her own quest for music. It’s one of those moments that makes me immensely proud, as both a vinyl aficionado and a father.

She’s living with us now, suddenly and unexpectedly, for reasons personal and private. But it’s a good thing, a positive turn of events, and will make all the difference in her life. Of that I am sure.

Of course, this means I have even more reason to fret over the fact that we’re only going to have one bathroom in our new apartment. Add a teenage girl into the mix and suddenly that’s a 3:1 ratio. But we’ll persevere, through staggered schedules and a vanity in her bedroom and a case of this wondrous Poo-pourri product that was mentioned by more than one reader.

When I told Tara of this turn of events, I said, “Congratulations – it’s a girl!” She’s actually thrilled, and long made a push to have Audrey come live with us. Part of the problem with people I dated in the past was their unwillingness to accept this preassembled family into their lives. My wife is not like that. “This may be the only chance I ever have of being a mom,” she says, and I love her for that. More than she can imagine.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to adjust to this sudden, new reality. The kids decided to live with their mother last June. Prior to that, we’d had shared custody for nearly seven years. To put it into perspective: the last time I was a full-time dad, George W. was (annoyingly) STILL President, “Deal Or No Deal” was a Top 10 television show, Justin Timberlake had just brought “SexyBack,” a social media site called Facebook debuted, and Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin was killed by a stingray. That’s a long time, huh? I’d gotten used to certain things over the years. Such as freedom. But, it’s a small price to pay to make sure my daughter receives the upbringing she needs.

Welcome home, Audrey.

We didn’t just confine ourselves to a record store Saturday. Since we were on Hawthorne Blvd., our favorite Portland neighborhood, we also stopped into a couple of vintage stores. It was in one of those that Audrey informed us she wants a typewriter. I didn’t even know whether kids these days knew what a typewriter was! They’re bound to take a look at this thing…


…and wonder why the monitor is missing. You know what’s hard to believe? My senior graduation gift was an electric typewriter. In the overall scheme of things, this wasn’t that long ago. The year was 1987. Computers already existed. Somewhere, Al Gore was tinkering around with the internet. I used that typewriter for college term papers, too. In my freshman year, anyway. By my sophomore year I’d moved on to a bulky DOS computer with a dot-matrix printer, and was blown away by the speed and efficiency of the thing.

Oh, how we can laugh over these things now.

Saturday evening, Tara and I had a belated Valentine’s dinner date. We ate at a Southern restaurant specializing in New Orleans cuisine, and I crossed “suck the meat out of a crawfish head” off my bucket list. Not that it ever officially made it onto the list, but if it had, well it’d be crossed off now. I’ve long said I’ll try anything, and if that ain’t proof, I don’t know what is.

Afterwards we headed to the White Eagle Saloon to check out a show by our fave band, The Moondoggies. This was the sixth time we’ve seen them play live since Tara moved here in 2012, which I suppose makes us either Super Fans or borderline stalkers. We were sitting at the bar beforehand and the drummer walked up to order a drink. He glanced over at us, and recognition blossomed across his face. “Oh, hey guys!” he said. “Hi, Carl!” we replied, as though we were old friends bumping into each other on a Saturday night. So we bought him a drink and toasted to a good show, which they went ahead and delivered. I love how cool we played it. For instance, I didn’t once squeal out loud or throw my panties on the stage. I guess you could say I kept us from crossing that Super Fan/stalker line.

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14 thoughts on “Keep Me Free From Birth

  1. I also received an electronic typewriter as my high school graduation gift. Typed college roommates’ papers and earned some cash with that baby! Sadly, it met its demise in one of our many basement floods over the years . . .

    Enjoy your extra time with your daughter! Teens provide some good Blogger fodder!


    1. I was so excited when I got my typewriter! Now all I can think is, boy did my parents get off easier. It was probably 1/8 the cost of a decent laptop these days. My, how times change. I wonder what I’ll be buying Audrey for her high school graduation?


  2. Ah, congrats on having Audrey live with you. Love your “it’s a girl comment. We now have my 20-year-old nephew living with us, so I can appreciate some of the adjustments you might be making. Welcome home Audrey!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. Well then, I should say to you: Congratulations, Kathy. It’s a boy! (And best of all, you got to skip right past the teenage years).

      Hope you’re staying out of trouble south of the equator!


  3. “It’s one of those moments that makes me immensely proud, as both a vinyl aficionado and a father.”

    Mark, I think that’s so awesome! And I also think it’s awesome that Tara is so open and accepting to your daughter living with you.


    And congratulations on having Audrey back home!

    Hey, I got a typerwriter for my HS graduation too, only mine was a manual.

    “For instance, I didn’t once squeal out loud or throw my panties on the stage.”

    Mark, you KILL ME, buddy! HILARIOUS!


    1. I’ll admit, there’s something about manual typewriters that is almost charming and romantic. Like those black and white photographs you shared on your blog the other day. Who’s got time for the newfangled electric typewriters?!

      Have an excellent week, Ron!


  4. I read this yesterday on my phone (how weird does that sound?), and I had some pretty good comments and had I had time to comment yesterday, I wouldn’t be writing this today. So now I have to come up with something completely different since I can no longer remember what my witty comments were going to be yesterday…today. *Sigh*

    I find it humorous that I sent you a picture of a typewriter on FB yesterday. Whoa!!

    It’s a great coinkadink really.

    I love that I finally get to meet my granddaughter this weekend.


    1. It was your picture of the typewriter that inspired this post! It just happened to work out that Da…err, AUDREY…had mentioned her desire for one a couple of days earlier. So, thanks for the extra little push!

      She’s excited about finally getting to meet you, too!


  5. Well I will start by saying I am glad your panties remained on throughout the show. I am sure everyone there was just as glad.

    Congrats on having your daughter move back in. That must be an amazing feeling. I wish you the best with her and hope to hear about more awesome father/daughter moments in the future!


    1. LOL. Yes, staying fully clothed was probably for the best. And I have to admit, it IS pretty nice to have my daughter around again. We’ll be the good influence she so desperately needs.


    1. You haven’t even heard the latest story about how Tara emailed the band and got a personal reply back from Kevin, the lead singer. He mentions me by name…and she never even put my name in her email. Pretty cool that he “knows me” now!

      Maybe not quite so blase, lol…


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