Monday, January 17, 2005

Raising Dominick

I've been thinking a lot about my nephew Dom today - or rather, a conversation I had with him at precisely 12:02am, Jan. 1. Shivering in the South Carolina night air, I drug a puff from my cigarette and drew the attention of my 24yr old nephew who came outside to share with me the New Year's Spirit (having absorbed quite a bit of "spirits" himself.) Dom began to share the trials and tribulations of being an artist. We've always coddled Dom - he's our "special" boy. He was in and then out and then in a performing arts high school, then in and out of community college, then in and out of the military service. Dom lasted a few weeks in bootcamp before writing home that he didn't want to kill people, he wanted to write. Then Dom went out to Cally to become a screen writer, or an actor - whichever. Dom came home and joined a band next, then quit the band to go back to Cally to be a songwriter (the later of which made me want to strangle him for no other reason than sheer jealousy.) Then Dom watched "Seinfeld" and decided to become a comedian, so he treated us to a myriad of practice material via his weekly updates. The best of his weekly updates happened when he decided to run against Arnold for governor of Cally. Having lost, Dom came home again.

Dom lives with his dad and attends community college, and he's very active in theater. In fact, Dom won some big ol' award and will be traveling to Orlando next month to compete with 49 other big ol' award winners for the big ol' national award and a hefty scholarship to boot. Yes, it finally looks like Dom is settling in. Maybe soon we can all stop raising Dominick.

But Dominick is homesick - he misses his bandmates, he misses writing songs, and he misses the stage. Dom is thinking about quitting school and moving back to Orlando to reunite and return to the spotlight. Never mind that Dom is finally getting the recognition he craves... never mind that for the first time, Dom is finally really DOING something... Dom isn't happy.

At precisely 12:02am, Dominick reveals to me his longings - He says that I don't understand what it's like to stand on a stage and see hundreds of people singing along with a song I wrote. SLAP! I looked him in the eye (and that was quite a task, given the amount of alcohol he had consumed) and let him know that I understand very well how that feels - I did it for six years. I then proceeded to take my turn at raising Dominick. I gave him the wisdom of my extra 12 years on this earth. I told him I had my turn at stardom and fame, and I cashed it in for happiness, contentment, and reality. I told Dom it's OKAY to say, "look, I'm not going there, so I need to find somewhere else to go." But today I'm thinking about Dominick, and I'm thinking I might very well have done a great disservice to our "special boy."

Dominick has the curse - you know what I'm talking about. Dominick looks in the mirror every day and says, "I'm BETTER than this." Dominick is not just talented, he KNOWS he's talented. He KNOWS he's special - he KNOWS he's a cut above the rest. For all his reaching and dreaming, there is one granule of truth; the boy has real talent. The boy knows, and I suspect has always known, that he was put on this earth with an extra dash of the "it" factor. Who was I to tell Dominick that it's better to stop dreaming, than to keep making mistakes? There are acceptable regrets in life, but you don't have to start collecting them when you're only 24yrs old - especially when you're 24yrs old and you have "it."

No one wants to keep raising Dominick. Everyone wants Dominick to settle down and start growing up... to actually finish something he's started. I respect his dad's advise to stay put; I think it's the right thing for our little dreamer. I just wish I knew of a way to help raise Dominick without killing him in the process.