It was a weekend in Fall of 2008 and I was teaching Abby how to ride her bike without training wheels. We woke up early and found a deserted grocery store parking lot in Catonsville. I spent the majority of the morning getting more than my fair share of cardio, sucking air as I galloped behind her with a hand on the back of the seat, like some cheesy Nationwide Insurance commercial, reassuring her that I wasn’t going to let go.
We developed a sophisticated system where in the event I wasn’t able to keep up with her or she felt like she was going to lose control and the front wheel started to wobble, I’d yell, “BAIL!” and she would. Most of the time she would just bail preemptively, fearful of meeting the asphalt with her face. But she never did; she always landed on her feet.
After an hour or so she got to where she’d ride about 10 feet without bailing. Around this time I pulled out my LG Rumor 2 and started recording. I watched as she took off like a rocket, tearing up asphalt like a fearless daredevil. I still have that grainy video stored in a portable hard drive.
Yeah, 2008 was full of incredible events. The world felt like it was changing at blinding speeds. We had our first black president. I moved 1,500 miles from Texas to Maryland. I even finally set up a Facebook profile and started pulling away from MySpace (even though most of Earth had abandoned it in 2006).
Just like MySpace 10 years ago, I’m deleting my personal Facebook page in the coming weeks. I would have deleted it a year ago, but for Abby’s 15th birthday, I have compiled all of my Facebook posts about her over the last 10 years. Every morning for the past year, I’ve checked my “Memories” on Facebook that mention Abby in one way or another. I would take a screenshot with my phone and upload it into a file that now holds somewhere around 270 screenshots of updates/posts. Let it be a quote and/or conversation, it’s all there and currently being converted into a book.
Yes, a picture is worth 1,000 words…but sometimes 150 characters tell a pretty fucking good story too.
2018 has held some remarkable achievements. Strangely, they revolve around multiples of 5. I’m fond of multiples of 5. Katie and I recently celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. It’s actually 10 years to the day when I made my last trip up to Maryland to see Abby for her 5th birthday, then decided to pack up my shit and make the permanent move to be close to her. But the biggest mark in 2018 is my daughter turning 15.
A few weeks ago, in a drunken stupor, I babbled on about how much I really do love this kid. I told her I was her biggest fan. No bullshit, I’m a fan of many things…film, music, comic books…but I follow this kid like a high school punk rock band groupie, handing out homemade flyers on neon colored paper to everyone at school. I’m always floored when I see her and pester her as much as I can before she runs into her room to escape me. Can’t blame her – I’m really annoying!
Without Abby, I most certainly wouldn’t be here today. The kid gave me a reason to live when I wasn’t looking for one. She also gave me reasons to worry, like any helicopter father would. But I find myself less and less worried about her as she turns 15. Still worried, mind you, but less so. I know that there will be some rough patches here and there where Dad won’t be there to save the day. I’m not completely fine with that, but I get it. It’s called life and that’s how it rolls.
But I know now, just like I did when she was 5, that she’ll land on her feet.