Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Who Knows Where the Time Goes

So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

--Who Knows Where the Time Goes, Fairport Convention

A few weeks ago, my son's mother reminded me that I needed to take "the picture."

When my son Adam was about 7 months old, she took this picture of him with me. It happened to by one of my treasured B-Movie posters, from 1962 movie "The Bellboy and the Playgirls."



Laugh, but it was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola!

Years ago, I saw this wonderful series of photos in Life Magazine. It was of a young father and his daughter at the beach. In the first pictures, he was a young, vigorous guy and she was an infant. Year after year, they would take a picture at the beach and eventually, she was a pretty young woman and he was an old man. I decided to do my homage to this.

In the first picture, I'd just had my hair cut. I had had hair down around my shoulders up until that point. One night, I was changing his diaper, and he grabbed a handful of my hair. I figured that if I lifted my head up, he'd let go. Wrong. He hung on, until he was completely off the bed, swinging from my hair like Tarzan, laughing his ass off. I decided the next day that my experiment with long hair was done.

In the next picture, he was about 2 years old. It's amazing how much he had slimmed down from the last picture.



This was the last "Bellboy" picture Adam and I did while I was living with his mother. We split the next year.

This one was taken when Adam was about 4. His mother and I had had a rough custody fight-- it was hard on him, but when the dust settled, he got back to being his cheerful self. He's holding his then-favorite toy, a Clark Gas truck.



It was the first picture we took in the house we're currently living in, in 1998. It was also the last one I took where I could pick him up.

The toy lobster in the foreground, a gag gift to me years ago from my kid brother, was his favorite toy when he was a year or so old. I noticed this weekend that he still has it.

The next picture was taken a few years ago, when he was about ten. He'd started wearing glasses when he was 8 or so. I'd gone back to contacts.



I was single and struggling to keep this apartment, which was the only stable home Adam had-- his mother moved repeatedly. I look tired in this picture for good reason-- I was working constantly-- in my job as a sixth grade teacher, and picking up every shift I could at the restaurant I work at. I can't remember who took the picture-- I think it was my friend Jim. It was the last picture taken with a regular camera.

The next picture, then, was the first taken with a digital camera, my Canon SD450. I set it on the television/stereo shelves and set the timer for ten seconds.



And today, my son turned 13. I am now the father of a teenager. We celebrated his birthday this weekend by going to his favorite Chinese Buffett, the one at the Ashland-Wellington Plaza. He ate with chopsticks as the rest of us-- my wife Kim, my stepdaughter Mel and I-- ate with forks and spoons. Here's the picture we took this weekend. It was taken by my stepdaughter, with my Canon.



I couldn't resist one more. Adam's mother, as I've mentioned in previous posts, is Chinese-American. In her culture, there's a tradition where you don't take a newborn out of the house for the first month. At one month, you have a big party with friends and family. You serve food, including hard-boiled eggs that are dyed red.



This picture was taken at that party by my old friend Larry Smith, who is a reporter these days for the Hartford Courant. He's also an outstanding amateur photographer and took beautiful photos of my wedding in December 2005.

Happy Birthday, son!

19 comments:

Bats in the Belfry said...

Today he is a man. Sorry Dude, I didn't realize it was Adam's birthday today. Happy Birthday to a wonderful kid.

Flannery Alden said...

Nice series of photos. I wish I had thought to do something like this with my kids.

kim said...

The boy is wonderful, and you hair is no where near is tall.

Neither is the stack of books that you had a sculpture in your living room.

What did ya do? Meet a woman?

deadspot said...

Crazy. Whoever thought we would be allowed to be responsible for teenagers?

Johnny Yen said...

Bats-
Thanks! Time for a Bar Mitzvah.

Flannery-
Thanks-- I thought I had one from when he was seven or eight, too-- I'll have to look for it.

Kim-
I think it's time for me to get another mohawk.

Deadspot-
I was looking through a box of mementoes a few weeks ago and came across the handmade card you made when he was born-- the punk baby holding the beer. Funny thing is, it looks a lot like him. Except for the beer.

GETkristiLOVE said...

So... does he like the Coppola movie?!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Happy Birthday Adam! You are going to love being a teenager and driving your dad nuts. (I'm kidding about the last part, I absolutely love having a teenager in the house)

What a wonderful idea that series of photos is! It is such a beautiful memento and a tribute to your lives together. I wish I had done something like that. What I did do, was mount or frame one of my daughter's drawings/paintings each year until she was about 12. They hang all over my house and I love seeing them every day.

SamuraiFrog said...

Happy Birthday to the young man. My teachers always used to call me Adam, it's the first thing I think of... That was a nice post, and thanks for sharing it.

Quick aside: I'm laughing because that movie was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Natalie said...

I really liked those pictures, I'll have to steal that idea when the time comes.

barista brat said...

happy birthday to your son!

the piccies are great!

deadspot said...

Wow. You'll have to show me that card the next time we get together. I remember making it... but I can't remember exactly what it looks like.

On the other hand, I vividly remember my contribution to the birthday card we gave you back at Eastern when we were all doing zines. I xeroxed that thing about a zillion times to get my art to blend in with the original picture so that it looked like a badly xeroxed picture instead of a drawing on a badly xeroxed picture... image manipulation was pretty crude in the days before Photoshop. I remember thinking as I was adding it to everybody else's stuff that it was pretty funny and kind of offensive but that you would probably come down on the funny side of the fence. In retrospect, I shouldn't have worried.

So what do these handmade cards mean? Either I'm creative or cheap, possibly both.

Grant Miller said...

Sweet, sweet story. We do kind of the same thing with our daughters. Very sweet. Happy Birthday to your son!

lulu said...

Happy Birthday to Adam!

What great photos. The first one is particularly cool, because that is exactly what I remember you looking like.

Mob said...

That's an awesome progression, happy birthday to your son, though it might be a little belated now...

Will he be carrying you in later photos?

Johnny Yen said...

Kristi-
Here's the funny thing-- of the four great b-movie posters I have-- Bloodfeast, Mill of the Stone Women, Women of the Prehistoric Planet and The Bellboy and the Playgirls, that's the only one that hasn't come out on DVD (Women of the Prehistoric Planet was released only as part of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing). I'm betting that Coppola is bribing someone not to release it. So no, he hasn't seen it. But then, I didn't see The Godfather until I was 27 or 28.

He does, however, love kitsch, so I guess my master plan has worked...

Barbara-
I love the idea about the paintings and drawings! I have only one-- I blogged about it in the post "Adam and the Ants." He had this great picture he drew that was an homage to his favorite movie of the time, "Them," about giant ants attacking Los Angeles.

Samurai-
Hey-- everybody's got to start somewhere!

Natalie-
Steal away!

I've also videotaped (that's why the camcorder was sitting around in the pictures). One of my favorites was when he was about 2 1/2, and he and I were carving a pumpkin together. He kept trying to touch the knife I was using and I told him no. In the video, I got a phone call and had to step into the living room (we were in the kitchen/dining room). He peeked around the corner and quickly and carefully touched the knife before I walked back in the room. It was hilarious. I didn't watch the video until a couple years later, and laughed my ass off when I saw it.

Barista-
Thanks!

Deadspot-
That's the "Welcome to Birthday World" one, right? Where you and Andreas spoofed our 'zine (before 'zine's existed) and wished me a "Successful Vertical Insertion"....

You know, people understand why I'm so twisted a lot better after they meet my even-more-twisted friends...

Yeah, I'd much rather have a $3.49 card with a bunch of flowers or a pastoral scene and a bunch of cheap sentiment...

Grant-
Yeah, well watch that-- that last picture, the one where my son's a month old-- he asked me why he was scared. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was because he was only 4 weeks old and a drunk guy was carrying him around.

Lu-
Thank you! It's funny-- I still think of that time as like six months ago. The Smokehouse was such a fun place-- loved most of the people I worked with, most of the customers, most of the food.

Adam still talks about that smoked, BBQ chicken...

Johnny Yen said...

Mob-
I had the exact same thought! It's till his birthday for about 20 more minutes.

Deadspot-
Forgot to mention that that was my favorite-ever birthday card, and I've got it framed, and usually on my wall (I painted last summer and haven't put it back up yet) I'll show you both if you and Lex come up.

deadspot said...

That's the one. :)

Hey, shoot me an email with some dates and we'll figure out a time to come up. I've got about a month before we start having games on the weekend, but even then we should be done by noonish.

Tenacious S said...

Johnny, what can I say? As someone whose daughter will turn thirteen in just two months, I understand the need to reflect on the time gone by. That was a lovely story. I've had an interesting week with my kids. The joy and the heartache are intertwined.

Anon. Blogger said...

J.Y.
Sorry I'm so late with this!

Happy Belated Birthday to *you*, JY. I always think that the birthday is celebrated by the wrong person. The parents are the ones... life is never the same when someone that you love with all you have, no matter what, comes into the world!

The tradition of your pictures is so special, and the pictures are great.

Once, when my kids were the ages where you just crave a few moments of alone time, I took a walk on a beach in the very early morning - gloriously alone. (We were on vacation) I met a man with two little ones playing on the beach. He was very anxious to talk... to another adult... remember that feeling?

He shared an African proverb with me that I will always treasure....

Raising children... the days are long and the years are short.

So true. Yes?