Whoo whee. My wife delivered a healthy baby boy on Saturday. Talk about an experience that goes beyond where words can follow. You spend all that time waiting and preparing and in the final days before the birth, a hush comes over your life and then everything is distilled down to this one room. Life drips out second by second for half a day as your wife tries to push a tiny human into being against what seem like impossible odds, even though it’s the oldest trick in the book.
The team at Martha Jefferson was so good, in love with their jobs and their new facility and all the little babies, that I’ll never think of hospitals or doctors or nurses the same way again. I’m writing this as a new parent, sleep deprived in a lobby, scared and excited at the prospect of going home, but really grateful for my family, my neighbors, the hospital, the town we live in, even this old newspaper.
Some way down the Blue Ridge in North Carolina is Whiteside Mountain. To get to the top you hike up gradually from the west side to a ridge covered in laurel thicket, and then work your way through one of the many well-worn tunnels that dump you out, often all alone, onto the bald face of the highest cliffs on the Eastern Continental Divide.
There are just a few times in your life when the path takes you somewhere so high that you can look back at your past and forward at your future likes it’s all laid out beneath you, from a place that is itself so solitary and so beautiful that it gives you eyes to see all of what is good in the world and none of what isn’t. That’s what this weekend felt like for me, like coming out of the close laurel and looking up and down the spine of mountains that runs nearly the length of the continent my people have lived in for the past couple hundred years.
This week’s cover story on how Charlottesville turned into Weddingville, USA, touches on another one of those moments. I can look back and see my own wedding really clear from here. I even remember all the heartache about invitations and what food to serve and who would stay where. But mostly what I remember is singing a duet with my wife after dinner, because after the party is over, that’s what you’re doing for the rest of your life.