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0:00 ...and when it was time to go back into the real world, David took the family back to North Carolina to Chapel Hill.

0:07 Phoebe Judge: So you arrive in Chapel Hill with these two little girls, and you now – now, it's you. It's...

0:14 David Alexander: Yeah.

PJ: It's dad.

0:15 DA: Oh, yeah.

0:16 PJ: And – what'd you do?

0:19 DA: It was all about managing. It was not about getting ahead, it was, hold down the process and be there for them when they came home.

0:30 PJ: Stability.

0:32 DA: Yeah. I managed okay.

0:36 Julienne: I think from the outside looking in for a number of years, it was pretty confusing how we were all, you know, banging around through life, and my dad chose to sort of forgo financial security for a more loving and readily available situation, which I think, in the end, has really worked out for us.

1:07 I remember him dressing up a lot in costumes of various kinds to pick us up from school. Like – not full costumes, but he would put on, like, a paper mask and just, like, waltz in, and you never knew when he was gonna take, like, a koosh out of his pocket and just toss it to you across a room that is in public. We have – we both have very good hand-eye coordination.

1:29 PJ: Because you're always ready to go up –

1:30 Julienne: Just...

1:31 Jody: Serious.

Julienne: Seriously.

1:32 Jody: Julienne and I sort of like to think we looked... You know how kids these days look really put together. Everything is coordinated. There are girls with bows in their hair and the moms have done so much to make them look, "Wow, look, you could take a picture and this would last and this would be like, 'Oh, I'd like to have that for my collection.'"

01:53 Where – when I – when I think about when Julienne and I were dressed up as a kid, we grabbed, you know, just grabbed whatever looked, like, clean and sometimes, like, to think, "Oh, we got out of, like, a trash can."


02:08 Julienne: It wasn't – it wasn't a trash can.

02:12 PJ: But your father probably said when you came downstairs, you know, he's both – "Well, that looks good."

02:16 Julienne: Yeah, yeah.


02:17 PJ: Great choice.

02:17 Julienne: I think we wore things that were definitely too small. I mean, sort of straightforward stuff. We probably both looked a lot like miniature fathers.


02:26 Julienne: And we still sort of are.

02:32 DA: It was easy to have two beautiful girls who were vibrant and having the opportunity to be dad, you know, and I continued to feed them every bit of their mother that I could.

02:46 Julienne: I mean – she's not very far away. She's sort of – like – vague, but she's close. You know?

02:58 For a number of years after she died, one of our various godparents, we'll call them, would be asked to call us on her birthday and tell us a story from their lives before when they were young cools in California, which is I thought was a really nice way of getting at maybe what she would have been telling us? You know, she wouldn't be telling us stories of our life with her, she would have probably over the years told us about what it was like before.

03:36 DA: You know, she was an amazing woman, amazing great woman who had such strength, and such great virtues, and such artful living as well as the art.

03:54 PJ: You're still in love with her?

03:56 DA: Sure.

03:58 Julienne: I can't really remember a time when Dad wasn't talking about mom in general. I think she just is part of his daily existence.

04:16 PJ: When was the last time each of you talked to your father? Jody?

04:21 Jody: Saturday.

04:24 Julienne: Is that true? He came over to your house on Monday.

04:27 Jody: Is that Monday?


04:28 Jody: That's what I mean. I don't see the sun.

04:31 Julienne: It was Monday.

04:32 PJ: So you saw him in person on Monday?

04:33 Jody: Yes.

04:35 PJ: And how about you?

04:36 Julienne: I also saw him on Monday.

04:37 PJ: And how...

04:37 Julienne: But different times.

04:39 PJ: Different... So he's making the rounds on Monday?

04:41 DA: He really was, and he was saying that and, like, really congratulating himself about it.

04:46 Jody: He quite likes to do that.

04:47 PJ: Make the rounds, one step, and then the second?

04:49 Jody: Having us both in one day, it feels like a success.

04:53 PJ: Does he show up at your homes or workplaces unannounced?

04:59 Jody: Yes.

05:02 PJ: So he would come and you'd be working and there would be your father?

05:06 Jody: Right.

05:07 Julienne: Recently, my boyfriend Chris got a job, and my dad was super proud of him, and he took the opportunity to go to his place of work with a bag filled with ice cream, ice cream boxes.

05:26 PJ: He showed up at Chris's work?

05:27 Julienne: Yeah, on his first day, looking for Chris. You have to press the door bell, get invited in, and then he just immediately is like, "Have you seen Chris? I need to bring this to Chris." There are like 100 people who work there and nobody knows who Chris is 'cause it's his first day...

05:43 ...but he spends maybe most of an hour looking all over, meeting everyone, glad-handing, meanwhile just dripping ice cream all over the office, before he finally finds someone who shows him where a freezer is where he can deposit the ice cream.

06:00 I don't think he even encountered Chris. I think Chris was in a meeting or being like HR'ed somehow. And so he only heard about it when he got back to his desk, and everybody in the office had met my dad who was looking for him. So yeah, it was a good way for Chris to be introduced to his new scene [chuckle] ...

06:24 but also yeah, he's great, my dad's great, and sometimes he misreads a situation but seems to always tumble out on top.

06:35 DA: I asked the girls how they would feel if I looked out and maybe looked for some company. "Oh yeah, dad, go ahead. Sure, yeah, do it," you know, fully encouraging me, you know.

06:50 PJ: How did you do?

06:52 DA: I didn't know exactly how I was gonna go about doing this, and eventually placed an ad in the Independent, which was very popular in its time.

07:06 PJ: The weekly old newspaper.

07:08 DA: Yeah, the Independent. And I placed some expansive ad in there and I got – I got a lot of responses. I mean, a lot of – I think in the first two days I had 30 calls.

07:25 Julienne: He chose to start dating at a pretty challenging time for us, in so far as, like, we were discovering what, like, pranks were. And so we played a lot of pranks on women who would come over.

07:39 PJ: What he told me is that the ad went out in the Indy.

07:42 Julienne: Yep.

07:43 PJ: And that he... got a lot of responses.

07:46 Julienne: He did, yeah, it was too much.

07:49 PJ: Was that hard?

07:51 Julienne: Well, we have a love/death grip on each other in general, the three of us, so we're all – we're all very protective, too protective.

07:59 PJ: So you didn't think this woman was good enough?

08:01 Jody: Julienne and I didn't care for one of them, yes.

08:04 PJ: Did you tell your father that?

08:06 Jody: Oh yeah. I feel like we vocalized that at least half a dozen times.

08:10 Julienne: And also we put saran wrap on the toilet before she went in there. [chuckle] So, like, not always verbal communication. We chickened out of a few really harsh ones, like we put tacks in her shoes once, and then we went and pulled them out.

08:30 PJ: Are you dating now?

08:32 DA: I'm not.

08:33 PJ: Are you interested in dating now?

08:36 DA: Oh, look at you. [laughter]

08:39 PJ: The phone's gonna be ringing. This is just like that ad in the paper.

08:44 DA: I'd say I am ready to date.

08:47 PJ: Are you online dating?

08:49 DA: I have.

08:50 PJ: What's on – how are – are you good at online dating? [chuckle]

08:53 DA: I don't know. I'm me.

09:00 Jody: It'd be nice to have – for him to have someone. He spent a long time... And the more time I feel like he spends without someone, the more he, sort of, gets too comfortable with himself, if that's possible.

09:12 Julienne: That's right.

09:14 Jody: And structure is more needed than anything else I think. Not – not– not that he doesn't know what to do. It's just that, he says things like, "I could really use some woman kindness," and what he's saying is that he can't take care of himself as much as he thinks he probably should be doing.

09:35 Yeah, he's existing and he's doing a good job and he's healthy, but he doesn't see things that I... I point out and I feel bad and I don't wanna be mean that I'm pointing out but...

09:45 Julienne: She means like ear hair, to be clear. Um – I think you're totally right, Jody, the more time he spends by himself, the more... I mean... It sort of seems like the pool of candidates is shrinking, both in actual numbers but also just because people become more and more jaded in their own ways, and so then they're less eligible for my dad who I think really more than anything wants, like, an open-hearted person.

10:18 So yeah, finding a partner of any kind, even if it's just someone to pal around with, would take a little of the pressure off of us. That love grip that I was referring to is real, and having someone else who could listen to some of the stories and give the hair cuts, and I think he would really thrive.


10:55 PJ: What has he taught you about relationships?

10:59 Jody: If you don't have the same, like, deep heart, like heart sense of each other, then why are you wasting your time, kind of.

11:09 Julienne: Oh yeah, he's a real "cut your losses" kind of guy when it comes to love. He's... Like, either it's there or it's not, and there's no sense in trying to build it, it's just... That's not how it works.


11:33 PJ: This is Love is produced by Lauren Spore, Nadia Wilson, and me. Audio mix by Rob Byers. Special thanks to Ian Chillag and Katie Davis. Julienne Alexander creates original illustrations for each episode of This is Love, and her father is very proud of her. We'll be back with a new episode next Wednesday. Here's a preview.

11:55 Lynne Cox: I think that that's normal to be scared. I mean when you can't see anything below but you can feel something and you can also not just feel the motion, but the presence of something.

12:07 PJ: Go subscribe, and find out more about the show at This is Love is recorded in the studios of North Carolina Public Radio WUNC. We're a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a collection of the best podcasts around. Special thanks to Adzerk for providing their ad serving platform to Radiotopia. I'm Phoebe Judge, and This is Love.

12:38: Radiotopia, from PRX.