About 9 months ago, I was helping a friend move out of his enormous and overly furnished house. There were big screen televisions, sectional couches, large wooden bookcases, dressers, and countless tables. All of these needed to be packed to the exact specifications of my friend's overly demanding wife. Of course, this amount of work is usually done for the price of two pieces of Domino's Pizza and a couple of Bud Lights.
I got the crap job because I had made the fact known in some drunken conversation that I once worked at UPS. Therefore, the privilege of neatly cramming three trucks worth of belongings into one sweltering 25 foot Ryder moving truck was all mine. To make matters worse, I would swear that the truck was leaning to the left at a 45-degree angle. After four hours of hard labor, I was sweating, dehydrated, disoriented and just about ready to quit and forgo my "moving fee". It was right about that moment when the call came that pizzas were hot and the beer was cold.
"Hot Damn," I thought to myself, like a little kid that plays baseball because he knows that Chuck E. Cheese is only 7 innings away. So I brushed the dirt off of my pants and walked through the garage into the house. No sooner then I had stepped through the door, BAM, the phone rings. Not my phone. My phone had neatly broken into 5 pieces. I think it fell out of my pocket while I was trying to load all fifty boxes labeled "magazines". No, it was the house phone, one of the few remaining pieces of clutter that was unboxed and workable. The lady of the house answered the phone, and politely (with a little hint of "How dare you") handed it to me. I believe the conversation between me and my wife went like this:
Wife: "Are you still there?" (Not the most intelligent of comments since I was using their house phone)
Me: "Yeah, they had a lot more stuff then I imagined." (Not the most intelligent of comments either, because there is always more stuff then you can imagine)
Wife: "Well, I just called the doctor and he thinks I should go to the hospital."
Me: "Holy SHIT!!!"
Cut! Freeze frame! If ever there was a moment in life when holy shit could have had a loaded meaning, this was it!
This holy shit meant that I was about to be a father. Holy shit, I have to drive 30 miles back home, get the "Paternity Football"(my term for the meticulously packed hospital suitcase), and find a way to move my painfully swollen wife from house to car, car to hospital. Holy shit, I am going to be responsible for a living, breathing, spitting, burping, pooping, and absolutely fucking beautiful baby boy. Holy shit, I haven't even had a piece of pizza yet! Holy shit, everything that I have ever known, is about to completely change.
I had 10 months to ready myself for this moment. I had taken all the classes that were available, and I had listened as carefully as possible. I had become the MacGyver of all things baby. I could make a baby sling out of three pine needles and a piece of straw. My wife and I had even taken a class that teaches parents how to keep their own relationships intact. There were classes that taught active listening, how to learn the signs of overstimulation in a child, and most importantly, how to change a diaper. The only thing that I never prepared myself for was how having a child was going to affect…me.
I know it must sound a bit selfish to worry about how having a child is going to change my life. My wife had struggled through pregnancy and every single part of her body (and wardrobe for that matter) had changed negatively in some shape or fashion. She was about to have an irregularly shaped, ten-pound object pulled through a small incision in her abdomen and here I am worried about "me". Human nature can be a bitch.
Of course, I gave her all the love and support that she could handle. I changed every diaper while she was laid up in bed, I called family, I hosted friends and I finally got over my fear of holding young babies. However, in the back of my head I couldn't help thinking "Damn, I guess I won't be going to John's party this Saturday."
So this all brings me full circle to this very day that I am writing this article. Tonight, I am about to say goodbye to one of the things that I have held most dear in my life. Playing live music. Tonight I walk on the stage of The Central Saloon in downtown Seattle, a place where the greats like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains all got their start. At roughly 11:31 PM, the band will get done with sound check. I might rush to the bathroom to empty my nervous and slightly alcohol filled bladder. Then I will walk up those three dirty, creaking stage steps for the very last time.
I will sit behind my drumset, and look out upon the thousands of people (alright maybe the tens of people, but a guy can dream.) Then I will start playing the songs that I have helped cultivate over the last two years, for the last time. When the house lights come on, I will pack up my equipment, step off the stage and maybe grab one last beer. People will come up to me and say things like "Why are you quitting?" and "What are you going to do now?" I will reply: "I want to spend more time at home."
That’s the real kicker in this whole thing. I want to retire from doing something that is so special to me because I have found something that is greater than "me." I have spent the last 9 months juggling a wife, a kid, sports, two bands and hanging out with friends. I have tried being a husband, a father, a friend, a bandmate, a teammate and myself. However, I think if I keep trying to live this lifestyle I might develop a severe case of split personality disorder.
So I am wholeheartedly moving onto another stage of my life. A stage of less glamorous things, like broken windows and scabbed knees. Little League and Chuck E. Cheese. All it took for me was three steps into my child's room, three steps to see him peacefully dreaming of future lost teeth, ponies and ice cream. Three steps to help me forget about a life that was once filled with the three dirty, creaking steps that I will walk for the last time tonight.
I have spent the better part of my life trying to figure out just who I am. Im a Seattlelite, with just a touch of New Yorker and North Carolinian. Im a soft-talking, fast-driving, rain-loving son of a bitch that refuses to believe that he is getting older. However, each day I awake to the sound of my child's laughter, and slowely realize that getting older might just be a good thing.
ABOUT DREW WRIGHT
more about drew wright
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
6.26.05 @ 10:53p
This is beautiful, man.
So you're leaving both bands? You can't keep one?
6.27.05 @ 11:43a
Yeah, both bands are done. One band played just one reunion show that we practiced a couple months for, and the other band played my last show on friday.
It was sad, but refreshing at the same time. It was like breaking up with a longtime girlfriend, but still being really good friends afterwards.
7.15.05 @ 8:53a
I won't say you'll NEVER regret this decision, but I will say that you'll feel it's all worthwhile: (1) when he saunters off to college in that cool way he'll have by then. (2) When he rolls his eyes and says, "Oh, DAD!" every time you act like the old fogey you'll become by then; (3) When he calls you up and says, "It's time, dad. We'll meet you at the hospital," and you get to see the second most beautiful baby in the world.
(Or third or fourth or whaever depending upon how many you have yourself.)
7.15.05 @ 9:32a
This is the first thing I ever read on Intrepid that almost made me cry.
Drew, I'll always fondly recall your antics as the drummer with Mr. Procopio and I back in the 90's in the much acclaimed Intrepid house band brilliant. And come hell or high water, I'll never give up music. It's sad to see your days of live play come to a close.
I should be in Seattle later this year. I hope fatherhood doesn't prevent you from coming out for a beer.
7.15.05 @ 9:34a
Unless the baby is ugly. Then you're just SCREWED.
7.15.05 @ 9:58a
Walker, I find it hard to believe that re-reading your own drivel doesn't make you cry sometimes.
Seriously, tho, nice work Drew. Good column.
A good friend of mine recently had a baby and he's started acting like a wuss too. It's like a disease.
7.15.05 @ 11:05a
Of course I will be able to come out for a beer or 5 when you are in Seattle. Just let me know when and I am there!!!
7.15.05 @ 12:00p
Follow your instincts and be the good father, but don't stop rockin'.
7.15.05 @ 12:19p
Well, it is a choice I made. There are so many things that I want to do, that I really love to do. So I made the choice of cutting out music. It might sound like "if I cut out music then I cant really love it that much". However, it was more that I was spending 3 days a week doing something I love, when I could be spending a couple of those days doing several things I really like doing.
I am in the process of finishing off my garage so that I have a place to practice my "chops". So I can still play a whole lot of drums. Just wont be doing it in front of a bunch of people. I am also sure that I will occasionally get offers from friends to fill in.
7.15.05 @ 12:39p
Good for you, Drew, it’s tough to have to let go of things when you become a new dad.
Mike, you’re a silly twat. Being a good father doesn’t make you a wuss.
7.15.05 @ 12:44p
I never said anything about being a "good father." Just becoming a father wusses people out. Take a joke, Woody.
7.15.05 @ 12:51p
I meant you're a twat in a good way.
No, seriosly, try getting up at 3 maybe 4 times a night with a crying kid and then going to work all day. Going out for drinks and such really isn't an option until the kid learns to sleep through the night. Unless you're the douche bag type of dad who lets the wife do it all while your life doesn't change much. That sort of dad needs to be kicked endlessly in the sack of course.
7.15.05 @ 12:53p
I just think it's funny to watch from the outside as someone who you've known in one capacity suddenly does a 180 on a certain part of their life when they have a kid, as evidenced by quitting bands, quitting drinking, or whatever.
I understand it, as well as I can without having crossed that threshold, but it's still interesting, and a bit depressing, in a way.
7.15.05 @ 12:59p
Yeah, same from the inside. I miss being a nutball sometimes. Unless you don't need sleep, you just really can't have both. Some people I know have kids that are wide awake at 5 am every day of the week. You can't be out until 2 and deal with that.
7.15.05 @ 1:07p
When he was 1-4 months old I was playing alot of shows. I would come home at about 2AM and he would be waking up for a bottle. I would then be up until about 3:30 in the morning, go to bed and then wake up at 6AM and do it all over again. That was hard.
But I would agree that I am now officially a wuss. When I go to parties(rarely) I have to be home by 12PM, so that I can wake up and help the wife take care of the kid. I spend at least 5 hours a day talking some sort of baby language. I can now carry whole converstions with the word DADADADADADA. Go figure.
7.15.05 @ 1:16p
I'm not saying that it's not worth it. Obviously having a kid makes you rearrange your priorities, and unless you're a deadbeat, it's probably worth it.
It's just makes you an easy target for people like me, hardcore party animals who take no prisoners and answer to no one but themselves!
7.15.05 @ 1:18p
7.15.05 @ 1:23p
I knew that was coming, laid it out for you, just like your mother lays out your clothes.
7.15.05 @ 1:30p
7.15.05 @ 1:37p
Mike’s relationship with Heather has steered his interests towards color swatches, sconces, the theater, and coasters. When he says hardcore he really means fabulous
7.15.05 @ 1:41p
"When he says hardcore he really means fabulous"
Thats funny stuff!!!!
7.15.05 @ 1:57p
Reminds me of my favorite guote from Old School:
Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time.
7.15.05 @ 2:00p
Totally! We may have kids but Mike is Frank the Tank all the way.
7.15.05 @ 2:03p
Drew, the only guitar I've played since the girls were born has been for them. But I see it as temporary. I'm recording again with every intention of putting a band together soon.
I can't say it's a good thing if you quit. You have an uncanny sense of natural time.
The change that comes with fatherhood is drastic and inevitable. Mike will go through it too.
7.15.05 @ 2:15p
Who knows what will happen in the upcoming year? I could miss playing music more than I thought and give up all the other things I do to play. However, it would definatly have to be on my families terms.
For right now I enjoy spending time at home, watching the kid grow and learn. It is amazing how fast he has gone from immobility to chasing the cats around the room. I also really enjoy the ability to go out and play lacrosse and soccer. This gives me the opportunity to do that. If you love something let it go...blahblahblah.
7.15.05 @ 2:33p
I give it two years before you pawn the kid for a new guitar. Or at least put him up for adoption to get back to business.
7.17.05 @ 3:37p
See these are the reasons I thank God I'm gay and single and have no children. I'm too much of a hedonist to take on the responsibility of caring for a kid. That, plus for every example of one good parent I can produce ten examples of bad parents.
7.17.05 @ 11:55p
I dont know, I tend to know more good parents than bad parents!!!