I love men. I have always loved men. But I didn’t start loving men first because of my father. It was because of my brothers, and my friends.
I never trusted girls the way I trusted boys. With boys, all their words were right up front—they weren’t crafted to both reveal and hide painful intentions and hidden messages. If a boy wanted to punish me for some adolescent offense—whether making fun of his parachute pants or questioning his taste in ‘80s pop—he’d punch me in the arm, right then and there, instead of crafting an underground campaign and drafting four of my closest friends to shut me out of some event that didn’t even matter but suddenly did, so much, when I wasn’t asked to be there.
No, boys I got intuitively and completely. They wanted to have fun. They wanted to laugh. They wanted to laugh until boogers came out of their nose or farts out of their butts and then punch someone in the arm because they loved them, the throbbing ache in the punched arm not too, too different from the beat of your heart.
This weekend I was reunited with my intense love and trust of boys, the boys who are now men, as I, apparently, am now not a girl, but a grown-up woman. We all converged in New Orleans, that town made for fun and riotous happenings, for the Dad 2.0 Summit. The point was to discuss the brotherhood of fatherhood, as it relates to blogging and making room, more room – MORE ROOM – for complexity and variety and dimensionality and other important –ies in how we think of men who are fathers. What we expect of them. But more important, to understand how very, very much they expect of themselves.
And after the panels, filled with such depth and vulnerability and truth-telling, there was the company of these men, that warm, familiar feeling to me, of being surrounded by straightforward affection and camaraderie, and the willingness for an adventure at any moment.
Last night I found myself on Bourbon Street surrounded by 20 or so really good men, and I felt so at home in their laughter and their trash talk, their easy conversation, their brotherly attention. I don’t think I’ve ever realized how safe my two brothers make me feel (because there were parts of our shared and different childhoods that didn’t feel so safe, perhaps), but last night I was in an army of brothers, and I wanted to stay there forever.
Thank you, Dad 2.0. And thank you, all of you, the dozens of really warm, funny, interesting, passionate, hilarious, adorable, lovable men who were there. Thank you for letting me hang in your tribe, a place I feel so very much at home.