For Father's Day

Last weekend we went for a hike at Sleeping Giant State Park. It was one of those days where J and I were both tired and getting nothing done, and he suggested the hike, saying some exercise would make us feel better. So we packed up the baby and our big dog, Cecilia, and went. J looked at the maps and chose a route that was not the most difficult, but certainly not the easiest. It was, at some points - with the Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest, J holding Ceece's leash - ever so slightly treacherous, in fact. Mostly because I'm not exactly the most sure-footed person and there were some tricky climbs...through a rocky stream bed, for instance, where I needed to keep my eyes down, watching for wobbly rocks and slick surfaces. Normally I would have been no holds barred, but I didn't want Nora to get hurt.

We made it to the very top, where there's this stone castle with fantastic views of New Haven and the surrounding area. There were little kids and couples and bands of young adults, probably students at nearby universities, and dogs, too. Everybody was in a great mood. Like the rest of the country, Connecticut has been rained out for most of June, and this was a rare (somewhat) sunny afternoon. J was right, the hike made us feel better. No one had fallen down (me, I mean me) and we'd gotten a good workout. Perhaps most importantly, though, we'd tested one more limit in our lives as new parents. Kinda difficult hike with baby? Check! And we'll do it again.

Changing the subject for a minute, there was this one time when J and I got together - and I mean first got together - that I'm not even sure I've ever told anyone about before. No, calm down, seriously, calm down. I'm not getting all a) pornographic or b) romantic comedy on you all. We were at the New Year's Party where we kissed for the very first time. Midnight. 2002. We were 23. And then, you know, we didn't really stop because, well, we'd waited so long for it, and also we were 23 and we'd had a few drinks.

It wasn't the time to get all philosophical, but I found a way to do it anyway, and asked J something along the lines of "Hey, what if we get sick of each other someday?" Ridiculous, right? What I meant - and what he totally understood - was that I wanted to make sure this was it. That this was IT. I realize that sounds a little too fatal attraction for two 23-year-olds making out at their friend's New Year's party, but the circumstances of our getting together were totally infused with big ideas like fate and true love. So, in a weird way, my question made sense.

And when I asked that question, J happily told me, "No, we'll be like this forever." No questions. No concern at the level of commitment being discussed. Just certainty. Total optimism.

J can be a worrier. He can get stressed at the most insignificant of details, as his friends and family know. We make fun of his nervous reactions when he, say, realizes at the last minute he forgot to buy his Godfather a birthday present and shuffles around muttering "What do I do what do I do what do I do," like it might be the end of the world or something.

But he is, beyond a doubt, the most optimistic and confident person I know when it comes to important matters. The most radiant example of everything-is-going-to-be-fine-ness I have ever met.

Because of all the good this quality of his has done for me, I can only imagine how he's going to open up the world for Nora. I can only imagine those two adventuring all over the place.

From encouraging her accident prone mother up rough inclines, proving it's no big deal, to who knows? Who knows what's next?

After our hike, we returned to our car, parked in a shady spot and fed Nora. She was tired by this point, and cranky. Crying, to be more specific. J, heroically, offered to change her diaper, which badly needed changing, and which she very, very badly did not want us to change, because what she wanted was to be in her crib, in our house, taking a nap. While he got in back with her to do the necessary, I was up in the front seat rearranging the diaper bag into some semblance of order.

I got so involved in my task that I didn't realize that the back seat was vacant and the crying had stopped. Wait a second, where were they, I wondered, whipping my head around, thinking maybe J had taken Nora on an impromptu birding trip in a nearby field. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised.

Then I looked to the right and there they were, outside the passenger side window, J with the baby in his arms. Two huge pairs of blue eyes, forgotten tears on Nora's cheeks, both smiling at me like crazy people.

I laughed, and my heart swelled with big ideas like true love and fate, I couldn't help it. It might have been the best moment of my life.