In the most recent New Dad post, my boy was a mute 10-month-old quadruped, wondering at a sock.
Now he speaks, walks, barters and fibs. He remembers. He knows who he is and what he wants. (He is Noah, he wants to ‘repair’ his pillow with the drill.)
He will emerge from the pandemic a new man. To no-one’s surprise, to everyone’s delight.
Will I emerge new? To my own or other’s surprise, to delight or displeasure?
My wife, son and I first self-isolated in March 2020 in California. We’ll rejoin the world in Berlin, in another language, with new folk and work-lives. So, yes: new.
And yet, these geographic and material changes barely matter. Our significant New will be the collective experience of retreat and rebirth. A global Before and After, mysterious, radical, volcanic.
Here stand we all at the threshold of After. Pregnant with hope and trepidation for a whole new world… reunion and reckoning. Aladdin’s magic carpet or Charon’s relentless punt?
It’s soon. I’m in a beer garden with hundreds. Midday sun dazzles and dances through colossal plain trees, nature’s disco ball. I see our friends at a harvest table, cheering and hugging, winter-pale faces with spring-fever smiles. I pick up my son just before he cuddles a tetchy dog and walk to them, stepping on feet, shoulder-checking tweens; my body’s forgotten how to move in a crowd.
“My god, he’s changed so much!” my friends say. “He talks! He says the weirdest things!”
I suppose I have. I suppose I do.