Birthdays and Holidays

Today my husband turned 55- double nickels as he has baptized it-and due to my hysterical Catholic nature, we are not celebrating.  I have a higher purpose- packing and planning.  Tomorrow we embark upon the most wondrous family experiences- the family vacation.  Steve booked this trip to our time share (interval ownership, he insists) last year- 365 days ahead of our arrival.  15 days later, he was shuffled out the door at Jack-FM, and his available vacation days expanded exponentially.  Had he been sure of his severance ( he had an inkling) I am positive he would have elected to travel in ANY week besides a holiday week. Too late.   It is only November, after all, and though the days are short, and the dark depresses California born Steve- he is not at the suicidal “I hate living here, why do I do it?” stage. ( That is a harder question now that he is a free spirit.  He could podcast from anywhere.  I cling to Illinois like a bumper sticker to a car.)  

Steve loves to fly, but he hates the cattle call that air travel is today.  He hates relinquishing  control of his personal well being-even to a pilot. Nevertheless,tomorrow the Dahl contingent will be moving its energy to Maui.  The boys and their significant others will soon be sunburned and mellow.  It is a sign of how low I set the vacation bar that I even look forward to being on a plane for 9 hours.  Just being with my family is a windfall for me.  The kids have been to Maui with us, and it is magic. 
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 Who knows if we will ever be able to assemble the whole tribe for such a holiday again?  I am bubbling over with gratitude.  I even made celebratory T Shirts for us to wear for a commemorative photo.  Steve WILL NOT like that one bit.  But he will do it- for me- and I will share it here with you all.  Come back and visit here this week- it will be like being along.  Plus, it will make me feel less dumb for lugging my lap top to Hawaii.  Please? 

We will no doubt create some sort of alternative birthday celebration for Steve once we get to Hawaii.  He is, after all, the man who made all this possible. There was a gala in the basement today- Joe Walsh called Steve, and the Steve Dahlcast Family had a cake made at Tipsy Cakes in the shape of double nickels.   Ron Lewis, the financial arm of Steve Dahl International, brought tacos from Los Dos Compadres, a Mexican restaurant that Steve loved but would not share until recently. Ed Silha, Steve’s computer guru, had the same inspiration as I did- we ordered the BEST ice cream in America- Graeter’s from Cincinnati, for Steve.  Call us enablers. I also bought Steve a copy of my book club’s selection, so we could share the adventures of Shadow Divers.  Steve says reading is for losers.  But he packed it, because he loves to scuba dive.  In truth, Steve does not need or want stuff.  He provides for himself.  He is grateful for the kindness, however, even if he does not emote.  

It was a fine celebration for a fine man.  He was not always as fine a man as he is today, and I am glad I stuck with him. This last year has not been the year he dreamed of, and not only because of the vacation schedule.  He is a man who lives his life for the observations and stories he can share with a much larger community.  To be off the air has challenged his view of who he is, and forced him to re-imagine his purpose.  He has never wavered in his optimism, and his desire to adapt to new communication models.  There has never been a moment of self-pity, anger and rage.  He dedicated time to pushing himself outside of his loner boundaries- golfing, bowling, and taking care of my Dad.  He flew out to California to visit his Mom as she was dying, and has tried to forge new strands of understanding with his Dad and brother.  He may not have succeeded at all he tried- he is still a very bad golfer, and a frustrated bowler- but the miracle is that he keeps plugging along.  No drinking.  No drugs.  No complaining.  No regrets.  (On the other hand, he still does not seem to have an affinity for household chores.  I am working on it.)
Steve is still Steve:  the raw materials were always there, just obfuscated for a decade or so by alcohol and an extended adolescence.  By the time CBS furloughed him, he had 13 years of sober resolve.  The management at CBS trusted him enough to let him pick the day and the way he would exit- they knew he was too respectful of the medium to desecrate it.  He wasn’t happy to get 2.5 years of paid exile, but he understood the business model that directed the change.  He spends a lot of research time trying to figure out the vagaries of ratings and the mechanical/statistical challenges inherent in the new PPM system.  He is assembling a mosaic so he can plan ahead. He assumes nothing, and presumes nothing about his post-exile world.    
Steve is a strong man, and he has a great curiosity about the future.  He keeps poking into possibilities.  Every day he gets up, writes a blog, heads downstairs with his staff to do a self-financed broadcast.  He brings the same dedication to the Dahlcast that he did to his terrestrial show.  He is trying to figure things out.  There will be some dead ends, and some home runs.  The journey is an adventure.  I am glad to be in the side car.
For the next week, that side car will be in Maui.  He has banked 3 new podcasts for the week ahead, and so at least he will be able to relax.  Maybe.  He has only been to Hawaii once before that he was not broadcasting- I hope he does not miss the company of his radio family.  We will have to work hard to make sure he is content.  It is the least we can do for our birthday boy. 

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