Who could have imagined that sunny California would be overcast and chilly the entire week my family traveled to Ohio without me? The gloomy weather seems to fuel the grayness of my spirit this week. I miss my family terribly; I donâ€™t do well on my own. Luckily Iâ€™ll be joining them by weekâ€™s end. The last I saw them, curbside at LAX, Julie and I kissed as she collected the multiple bags she had to wheel inside. Sophie gave me the grandest hug, not wanting to say goodbye. With mixed emotions she let go. Jacob, wearing his crushed and crooked Dodgers cap, asked, â€œDaddy, will you tell me if the Indians won?â€ I replied, â€œJake, youâ€™ll be in Cleveland. You can tell me if the Indians won.â€ Earlier that morning he asked me to wear my baseball hat when I flew into Northeast Ohio. â€œMy Indians hat?â€ â€œNo, Daddy, your Dodgers hat.â€ As a diehard Indians fan, flying into Cleveland wearing anything other that a Tribe hat seemed improbable.
They left, I drove away, and soon thereafter the loneliness set in. No one ever tells you how empty you feel when your wife and kids are away or how it can screw with your rhythms. When vacations approach and I know Iâ€™ll be home alone, I imagine using the free time to write or catch up on the movies I missed. Yet I find it difficult finding the energy to get started; without the family around Iâ€™m uninspired. A slug.
By day three of their trip, the house, void of Sophie and Jacobâ€™s laughter and shouting, Julie typing e-mails or in some telephone conversation, feels foreign to me. The night hours slip by as I listen to music or stare at mindless images on the television. Before I know it, the night has become early morning and I force myself to bed. Alone in my bed I pile pillows up against my back to make it feel like there are other bodies with me; I never imagined Iâ€™d miss my sonâ€™s knee digging in my back.
I began experiencing these feelings of parental separation anxiety years ago when Julie and Sophie (then a toddler) went away on a trip. I spent most of that time organizing our closets and wandering aimlessly through record stores, staring at CDs I couldnâ€™t afford. While visiting a dingy North Hollywood head shop, I found a copy of the Michael Stanley Bandâ€™s You Canâ€™t Fight Fashion amongst some used LPs. â€œWhat are the odds,â€ I thought, â€œof finding an obscure Cleveland based rock bandâ€™s record in the middle of the San Fernando Valley?â€ I scrounged up the dollar necessary to buy the album.
If you grew up in Cleveland during the late ’70s and early ’80s, you grew up hearing the Michael Stanley Band on the radio. Love or hate them, they were heroes to the local DJs, having scored a major record deal while remaining loyal to their hometown roots.
The remainder of the time Jules and Sophie were away I listened to You Canâ€™t Fight Fashion, in particularly â€œSomeone Like You,â€ a powerful rocker with plenty of heart. Even as a kid, singer Kevin Raleighâ€™s vocals always hit me square in the gut. As an adult, the poignancy of his voice and these lyrics spoke to me on a new way.
I ain’t no winner–
I’m no ‘miracle-come-true’
but I’ve waited so long now, baby–
for someone like you
I canâ€™t tell you how many times I sat on one of the ugly rocking chairs found in my parentsâ€™ basement, hearing this song being played on the radio and dreaming of having a special girl who would look past my shortcomings and see into my heart. Twenty years later, as the music played, I finally felt like a winner, blessed to have a wonderful wife and a child. This only made me miss Julie and Sophie more. Since then, each time Iâ€™m away from Julie, Sophie and Jacob, Iâ€™m out of sorts until weâ€™re together again nd I invariably wind up listening to the Michael Stanley Band.
The week is almost through; Friday afternoon Iâ€™ll board a plane, sit back, put on my iPod and probably doze off. Maybe Iâ€™ll watch the in-flight movie, or maybe Iâ€™ll work on this book Iâ€™ve been trying to complete. Whatever I do, the hours in the air will seem like an eternity. When that airplane touches down and Iâ€™m back with the family, Julie will give me a kiss, Sophie and Jake will latch on with massive embraces, and Iâ€™ll feel complete again, wearing a huge smile and my Dodgers hat.