Incompatible Lives

“It’s time for you to be a father, not chase tail all over the country.”

The voice cracked on my cell phone.

Angrily pacing in the airport, waiting on my return flight, with the phone clutched tightly in my hand, I countered, “It’s about me at this point in my life, my focusing on myself is not wrong. You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

My daughter had been crying in the background when my mother spoke next.

“You’re a shitty father. Your kids need you and you’re flying around chasing pussy.”

I had never heard my mother speak this way to me, and it shocked me greatly.

“Has everyone lost their damn minds up there? Do I get time to myself to travel, date, and sleep with women? What business is it of yours what the hell I do when I don’t have my kids?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that your kids need you and you’re not here”, she said.

I had this happen before. It was clear as day to me.

Back in my marriage, my miserable dead end marriage, my ex used to call me at work with kids crying and guilt me into trying to come home, saying “they miss you”.

She would leverage my job against my family and she knew she was doing it. And here was my mother, another women in my life, trying to guilt and shame me into coming home because my daughter was a mess.

My daughter had been suffering from anxiety, a curse that I passed down to her, and she wasn’t coping very well. And as her screams and cries harangued in the background of my phone call that day, I wasn’t having another woman in my life try to tell me what I needed to do, leveraging my lifestyle with my kids.

I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was just going out on my time that I didn’t have my kids, traveling and meeting new people, and yes, I was having sex with women. So? “What the fuck?” was going through my head big time as I tried and failed several times to calm down. So there I was, in an airport in Pensacola, yelling at the phone.

Before this altercation, I had spent the better part of 2 years traveling all over the United States, by car and by plane, visiting places I’d never been, meeting people from Twitter and other walks of life, and yes, sleeping with women.

I had spent the majority of my 20’s working, not dating, and being terrible with women. My 30’s were spent with marriage and kids. And after I jettisoned my marriage after 10 years at 40 years old, it was time, albeit late, for me to sow my oats. I hadn’t had this kind of power with women in my life and I wanted to try it out for a spin. I was doing it within the rules of my divorce.

There were weekends I didn’t have my kids, so what harm was it for me to go and enjoy my life?

“I really thought I had thought this through” was running through my head.

Conundrum

Why wasn’t I able to pull this off? I thought I had done my homework. Why in the hell was I dealing with this?

I wanted to continue to travel. I wanted to continue to date all over the country. I wanted to continue having fun with my free time.

But what I didn’t understand? With my particular circumstances, with who I was, and with what I was doing, I couldn’t pull it off.

Some men can and do.

My kids were suffering from my absence, even if I didn’t believe it.

Yes, when I was there, I was there for my kids. But, I wasn’t really there. Between work, hotels, flights, rental cars, date nights, and all the other stuff that was piling up, I was missing from my kids lives. My mind wasn’t where it needed to be. With pussy, dinner plans, and travel getting the lion’s share of my attention, I was mailing it in with my kids.

They needed a strong, grounded father who had built a foundation of strength and stability. They were getting neither from me. And when the inevitable blowups occurred, they (and the women in their lives) needed a strong, masculine calm to break the tension, something that I could not provide at that moment.

And I knew it. Damn I was having fun doing this life. But in a round about way, even if my mom was wrong for calling me a shitty father, she was right about one thing. This wasn’t me, and I wasn’t there.

I couldn’t pull it off. Some other dude could. I couldn’t.

So, as I left the airport bound for home that day, I had to rethink my entire strategy and if it was even possible to have these incompatible lives.

My mother had said very hurtful things to me. Things that I knew weren’t true, but things she had never said to me before. I had to grasp why she felt this way.

The women in my life (mother, sister, and ex) were losing control of the situation because I never had it under control. I took off week after week for a new destination, all while leaving these women in charge of a situation that I figured they had control over. But the minute I left, the shit hit. Why?

Because I wasn’t there. Not necessarily there physically. But there. My presence. My infrastructure. My frame. My setup. My processes.

I had done none of it to help offset any issues that I was hoping wouldn’t come up. I knew about my daughter and her volatility. I still did nothing. I blindly let myself get away with it, and now the check had come due.

She wasn’t getting her dad. She was getting a dude mailing it in on the days he was around and passing it off to others on the days he wasn’t.

The one thing I had wanted in life was to be good with women, and here I was, better than I’d ever been, and I was being asked to give it up for my kids?

Yes. Yes I was.

My kids needed me.

Putting It To Bed

Did I have to give it up?

The thought and question raced through my mind as I flew back home.

The flights lasted longer than any other I’ve ever taken, because I was being asked to let go of something I like doing, but it was becoming detrimental to my home life.

I understood, finally, that I could travel and do some of the things I wanted to do, but just not to the scale of how I was doing them.

I had to get back home and plant firm ground to give my kids the foundation and frame they needed to thrive, even when I wasn’t around. So I did just that and established myself firmly.

And as if by magic, my kids improved dramatically.

As Zac Small says, “Presence is greater than presents.”

And it was proven after my flight landed that night.

A year later, I went back to my mom.

I went up to her, gave her a hug, and told her I forgave her for calling me a shitty father.

She apologized for calling me that as well.

She understood that I had improved as a father, by simply being there for my kids, as opposed to being there for unnamed women.

No amount of pussy is worth jeopardizing your family over.

The women in my life that were the most important to me were getting the full me, finally.

Daughters, mother, sister were getting me, but also, the real me. I wouldn’t put up with any shit, but I would respectfully acknowledge that I was lacking in certain areas as a father, and that was more important to me to correct than any other issue at that time.

And my job was to make sure that my kids got me first and often. I needed to be there for them, even if it meant sacrificing my short term goals, I had to focus on the long term of my kids.

My lives, for just me, were at the moment and for the foreseeable future, incompatible. I couldn’t be the single dad who picked up girls any more. I had to just be the dad. And be a good one, which I knew I was.

But I also had to come to the realization that a long term relationship is what I wanted.

I just had to come home.

The LA Chronicles

The orange glow of the midday city sun cut through the thick smog. Carolyn was driving, listening to some tight Spanish tunes, I sat in the back with my thoughts, reflecting on what had been my first journey by myself anywhere ever.

And I could’ve gone anywhere. The Great Lakes, Florida, Texas. I could’ve done the Grand Canyon. I could’ve done Boston, the northeast. I could’ve gone to New York.

But here I was: Los Angeles

The wind blew in my hair, my sunburnt skin reacting to the cool breeze. I sat quietly, contemplating my life as it was right now, and where I was. What I was. I’d come so far.

My crossroads.

I’d done much since my divorce 3 years ago. I’d cultivated a now budding side hustle as a blogger, giving advice to men in my situation, including how to get back into the dating pool. I’m a successful business owner, leading a family run business for almost a decade through the trials and tribulations that befall or bless said business. I’d learned how to date again, practicing my newly found game over the past 18 months, and getting more successful by the day. I’d struggled with my child’s epilepsy diagnosis and all the uncertainty that came with it. All through, I morphed from another red pilled guru type spouting off diatribes against beta males, single moms, IG models, and hypergamy, to sharing my own journey with weight loss, fatherhood, dating and relationships.

And here I was, on my way to Laguna. The 5 wasn’t bad at all for midday, although LA is such a huge city that going anywhere by car means “road trip”.

This excursion was in part a midday getaway on my last day here, and also a lunch date that had cancelled. I kept on, determined now more than ever to live this last day in the City of Angels with the same flair I had lived my life since becoming unplugged and entering the world on my terms some 3 years ago.

Why was I here?

I had several amazing friends I wanted to see. I knew one from many endeavors, and I had wanted to visit for sometime. One friend in particular was eager to show me her city. She as well as the others lived out there, so it became a long weekend of fun in the sun and an experience I wouldn’t soon forget.

Los Angeles is such an indescribably beautiful city. Millions of different cultures wedged in between the Sierras on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. It’s built like a giant chaotic mess, with small chateaus, bungalows, and cool eclectic dives sharing the roads with million dollar homes. Gas stations look up to huge hills filled with massive homes, looking like fortresses watching the invaders they turned back.

Everything walks, rides, or bikes. All the stuff is within walking distance. Like little bubbles pooled together, each sector of the city breathes its own life, with neighbors seeing each other at Starbucks, the grocery store buzzing with activity, and the joggers out in force.

LA is a fit town. The people are beautiful. Everyone’s in shape. Everyone’s waiting for their big break. But they all love it here. It’s a rich, diverse, crazy home, but it’s theirs. The people are so warm, kind, generous, welcoming, and generally good natured that you can’t help but fall in love with all of it.

Rolling down highway 1, California’s iconic site, I was amazed. Beautiful palm trees, rolling hills, blue skies and beautiful blue water. My Lyft driver turned into the Ritz Carlton, dropped me off, and went on with her day. That’s what I noticed. Everyone is LA grinds and hustles, but they do it with a smile. It’s always sunny, so why not?

I walk around. Sun is blazing, the air off the ocean smells like the Earth’s breath, fresh from each tide push. The reflections off of the yellow and orange buildings makes the sun seem millions of miles closer. The brilliance is something to behold. As I walk, I can’t help but feel this city is speaking to me, a voice I haven’t heard before but now listen to intently.

I keep walking. I knew where I wanted to go. After watching my diet for the trip, I had a cheat day, and I wanted a giant sub. A small deli was situated just past the hotel, so I struck out to that very place. I wanted a sandwich.

You can tell a lot about a city by its food. Over the course of the past 5 days, I had a chance to sample the best food from the most unassuming places. Little hole in the wall restaurants are always where I go, because they have the best food, as well as the pulse of a city and its identity. The people that work there truly love it, and it’s why I try to find just those places.

And I couldn’t have been more happy with any of it. The staff looked like 20 somethings waiting for their big break, but in the meantime proud to work for a sandwich shop that takes care of its customers. Great, earthy people who have taken on the identity of their city, all while cultivating their own life from the mountains and beaches they inhabit.

I sat and dined, enjoying people watching as I ate. I wanted to read, but kept looking up from my book to just watch the world of Southern California walk by. You can’t help but be fascinated by the folks that meander to their destinations. Tan skinned beauties, surfer dudes, boomers with fedoras, and housewives grabbing a beer.

So as I finished, I went for another excursion. As I walked, I thought about all that I’d experienced. Meeting new friends who exposed me to a whole new world. I painted for the first time since I was a child. My picture, as California as everything else I saw, was painted with a new energy flowing through me given to me by this land. I just can’t describe it any other way. The brush took on a life of own, and showed me, just like everything else here, just what I was capable of when I stop and let life take the wheel.

I called for my Lyft, because no self respecting SoCal visitor rides Uber. As I got in, I looked around one last time at this alluring landscape. When all you see as an Indiana boy is nothing but flat, green fields, this landscape can seem alien at first, but does it ever impress as you view it totally.

The driver and I chatted on our way back about LA life, pick up and game, the pros and cons of online dating, and how well the Clippers would be this year. He was truly a Southern California star, open, warm, and engaging. For almost two hours, we spoke like brothers, even though we were separated by 2000 miles for most of our lives. It’s like good friends who haven’t seen each other for years picking right back up where they left off.

As he let me off at my hotel, I thought about my trip. The great friend I had made who showed me around this great city. She truly made me feel at home in a amalgamation of 20 million souls, all bound together by a sense of belonging, regardless of race, creed, or color. She made it seem so small and welcoming. She was proud of her city. She lived it everyday and showed it to me. Her friends were mine, with every laugh filling the air with joy of a perspective I didn’t know, but was glad to be a part of.

I came to LA not knowing a thing about it, but I left with a new found enchantment of a truly unique city. I was able to find a distinctive voice that opened up a whole new part of myself I didn’t realize was there. This city changed me for the better, and for that I am truly blessed.

I also made a lifelong friend, who made my LA experience truly magical. I’m forever grateful for her friendship. You shared your city with me, you showed me compassion when I was alone, and you took me to places that I would never had known existed. I can’t thank you enough for your hospitality. It meant the world to me.

So goodbye LaLaLand. I’m glad you opened your doors to me and added yet another layer of experience to my already growing travel life. You embraced me and made me a believer. I’ll most certainly be back.

I’m an honorary Los Angeleno. And like the great Billy Joel, the song “Los Angelenos” lyrics tell the story that I just lived in my “funky exile” that I wouldn’t ever give back.

“Los Angelenos
All come from somewhere
To live in sunshine
Their funky exile
Midwestern ladies
High-heeled and faded
Drivin’ sleek new sports cars
With their New York cowboys

Hiding up in the mountains
Laying low in the canyons
Goin’ nowhere on the streets
With the Spanish names
Makin’ love with the natives
In their Hollywood places
Making up for all the time gone by

Los Angelenos
All come from somewhere
Cuz it’s all so easy
To become acquainted
Electric babies
Blue-jeaned and jaded
Such hot sweet schoolgirls
So educated

Tanning out in the beaches
With their Mexican reefers
No one ever has to feel
Like a refugee
Going into garages
For exotic massages
Making up for all the time gone by
Hiding up in the mountains
Laying low in the canyons
Goin’ nowhere on the streets
With the Spanish names
Makin’ love with the natives
In their Hollywood places
Making up for all the time gone by

Los Angelenos
All come from somewhere
It’s so familiar
Their foreign faces.”

Thank you, City of Angels.