When my daughter was born, my DNA changed. Her mom had a C-section, which meant I had the first two hours of my daughter’s life outside the womb alone with just my daughter in the nursery. Her mom had had those 9 months in utero to bond with her, but for me, those first precious few hours cemented that she was the one for me . . . Only 18 months later her mother and I split up.
I had spent the better part of my adult life chasing a doctoral degree at Berkeley—and earning a law degree–working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. After earning my degree, I landed a “dream job” as an LSU professor for a disaster management think tank funded by Hurricane Katrina donor dollars. The job started in August 2008; shortly thereafter Hurricane Gustav missed New Orleans and slammed Baton Rouge. Because I had just started my job and my daughter hadn’t been born yet (she was born in September 2008), I was in Louisiana doing research when the storm came. The storm itself was a metaphor for how I felt—having a partner but unmarried and about to be a father at 35 years old (not young like my parents were when they started a family) right at that moment when all of the professional goals I had made were coming to fruition (but far away from home).