“I’m youth, I’m joy…. I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I’ve always fancied myself as a person with Peter Pan Syndrome, someone who never wants to grow up. After all, who wants to see and play in this world through the eyes of an adult? As a result, I’ve often confused growing up and growing old to be the same thing. Consequently, I always thought I wouldn’t live to see an old age. If youth was a candle, I thought the only way to live with a young soul was to let it burn all the time even if that meant it flamed out early. It’s not that I welcomed death, but I thought it was the price one paid for having a youthful outlook on life. As Hamlet said, “the readiness is all.” and I accepted that. We don’t know when our days will end, so all we can do is be ready for that moment.
Then, I had the chance to marry this beautiful woman right here.
And slowly “the readiness” began to dissolve, like sugar in iced tea. She taught me to love the trench work, the day-to-day wars of adult life. And I started to look forward to long work days because each day proved something about myself and created something of worth. I thought I could feel the Peter Pan in me starting to become overshadowed by the adult world. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it felt like growing up.
Then a few days ago, I met this little guy.
And “the readiness” vanished. Simultaneously, the youth in me was reinvigorated, After staring into those eyes, my imagination worked like it hadn’t in years, nay decades. I imagined, running after Durante (Dante for short!) around the house. Watching him play with the dogs. Teaching him how to dribble a basketball, even consoling him after his first loss, and his first broken heart. I wondered what he dreamed about while he slept. I find myself making baby noises as I hold him, and being content just stare at him for hours on end, watching him figure out how his mouth works, making faces old and young at the same time.
This time my youthful nature seemed fortified by something different: maturity. I can feel myself ready to do the hard work necessary to raise a child. Long days, short nights, slower times. I realized that my candle has a youthful wick encased by mature wax. Hopefully, the perfect blend to raise Dante.
This feeling reminds me of the song, “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young”, by Erich Church. I first heard the song, years after being married. While I can’t fully identify with the speaker in the song, I can definitely identify with his sentiments towards death: we both thought we were ready for it to come at anytime until love taught us otherwise.
Give the song a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzK_03Eu6xk
Church most commonly plays the song with a semi-hollow body electric guitar (sometimes a Gibson model, sometimes a Gretsch. He’s using a Gretsch in this video). It is an excellent choice, capturing the bite of youth with the warmth of maturity. The solo, which starts around the 2:28 mark in the music video, perfectly captures the gentle flutters of youth. Some might think the solo is too short, but Church masterfully keeps it tight, mirroring the maturity the speaker feels in the song.
I’m pairing this song, and this new feeling called fatherhood with this barrel-aged gem: Melange A’ Trois, which means a blend of three(fitting for our new family!), from Nebraska Brewing Company. This beer is a Belgian-Style Blonde Ale aged in for six months in Chardonnay barrels. This beer has an orange-golden hue, as if you put an orange creamsicle in a lava lamp. The nose of the barrel-aged beer is slightly sour with a hint of Belgian yeast, but mostly you smell the mineral, sweetness you’d associate with champagne. The taste starts out like a traditional Belgian Golden, light, tart, and slightly sour. Then the beer quickly moves to full-on champagne flavor and effervescence. The beer finishes nicely with hints of oak from the barrels it was aged in.
Since the beer is aged, it has the maturity Church croons about in his ballad, as well as the maturity necessary for fatherhood, but the beer’s bright flavors remind us that without a youthful outlook, parenthood, and life in general, would be bleak.
I’m always going to want enjoy a cold one, but maybe now, I’ll have one less than I’d used to. Here’s to our son, our new journey, and feeling young forever.
Cheers. Prost. Salud.