Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement. It meant the world and it once again reaffirmed that I have the greatest bunch of bloggers on earth as part of my “gang”. You guys are awesome and artists and wonderful people whom I am honored to have bumped into in this world wide web of disconnection!
I was walking Sofie not too long ago, enjoying the warm afternoon sun. We have a decent sized backyard and I like to walk around in the grass with bare feet. So, we walked around for a moment. She laid down and basked in the yellow light until a car door slammed. She jumped up and ran behind me. I was looking at the trees, oblivious to most everything except their creaking sound as their branches swayed in the breeze. Her hard tug made me turn and I saw my Dad paying us an unexpected visit.
He sauntered up as he always has since I can remember. He pulled up his jeans and cleared his throat.
“Hey Pops, what’s up,” I asked as we met half way.
“Christopher, what happened to your job,” he asked. His tone was more of inquiry than anger.
The first thing I thought was, “Oh, sh**, here it comes.”
My father and I never really had a relationship, most of you know a bit about that from the blog ‘Jogging My Mind’. I am not really used to the idea of a father. Not in a traditional sense. It almost seems comical in a way because it is such a foreign notion. Like watching Ward and the Beaver. So, when this happened I was a bit surprised. I could probably count how many times I have seen my father in my life and I will admit that I was bitter. If I were honest, I would say I still am.
You have this kid inside of you that is always there. The kid is you. Your base. Your root. “Youer than You” to quote Dr.Suess.
This kid in my head is still asking questions that I, as an adult, can’t answer and probably doesn’t want to know. The questions of ‘why’ this or ‘where were you’ that, have faded for a long while. Those left when I got older. My evolution faded most of those thoughts that plagued me as a child. That shaped me as a man.
I sometimes imagine myself walking down a long corridor in a dimly lit school. I walk to the end and open up a door. The room is lit by a single light overhead; people sit in a circle. The rest of the room is not visible because of the darkness. Only the center where the people are is visible. I see there is an open chair and I sit. I imagine looking around and they are me. All of them. I see my root, leading the discussion. I see the grade school kid who played with G.I. Joes a little too long but loved life. He sits playing with a Hot Wheels car. Not a care in the world.
Then, I see the middle school version of me. By his own definition, a “Curly Haired Slacker”. A victim of sloth and apathy.
I see the high school me. He sits, angry at so much more than what he believes. He says his mother smothers him but he is angry about the world and how he doesn’t fit in. He sits with green hair and a black hoodie, like he always wore.
Finally, I see the college version of me. The ambitious journalist who loved to have fun. Bettering himself. He would volunteer at places and then go downtown and drink a bit too much. Maybe wind up on an interstate but that is a different blog post.
Then, sit I. I look at all of these people and I see conflicting people. I realize that these are the past versions of a person looking for something he hasn’t found. I look at my root and he watches the door and I notice an empty chair next to me. The me that wears these black glasses and watches trees creaking. The me that has somehow become defeated but still optimistic. The me that doesn’t take my mortality for granted. The me, now.
The me that is waiting in that room for the next version to take his place beside him.
I suppose I divulge this bit of inner thought because I wanted to show an evolution of someone who became independent at a young age. I had to become a man in theory. I feel as if I turned out okay, probably better than if I had had a father but there is always that unknowing. The haunting question that plagues my base: What If?
I had to learn to be the man that was my mother’s idea of what it meant to be a good man.. So, I carry a lot of values of an older generation. Seems nice but you would be surprised how hard those old ideologies conflict with modern day women.
I tell my father everything that happened. I tell him about the loss of my job and my lack of luck now. I remember his face as he heard all of this. He just looked at the ground and nodded his head along with it.
I told him I had gotten a decent offer from a large business in Chicago but I couldn’t travel all the way out there when my Master’s starts in August. It would be pointless.
I tell him that I feel like I am stuck in limbo.
Then he says:
“Christopher, if it didn’t work for you, then it didn’t work. You did your best so… I don’t mind helping my kids as long as they are doing better. As long as they are trying to better themselves.”
I tell him, “thanks.” Then I mention how I feel like maybe I should have just went into the job market and skipped my Master’s. Maybe I should just stay home.
“Christopher, you are single. You ain’t got no kids. You can go wherever you want. You don’t have nothing tying you down. When I was your age, I had already had two kids. Man, if I had been in your position, no telling where I’d be.”
He said that with a longing gaze as he rocked in the swing glider. I didn’t say anything. What can you say to a man’s lifelong lament?
I just looked at him and saw that look of regret in his face and it reminded me of Voltaire’s Candide and how it harkened to the philosophical nature when it said, “…the best of all possible worlds”.
For a moment, my father was lost in that other life. That other world.
So, for my father, this isn’t the best of all possible worlds. Not in his mind.
I listened to him and took that advice (and all of yours!) and I feel happier now. I feel like I am doing what’s right for me.
My father and I stayed there for a few more moments and then he said goodbye. He called a few days later and asked about the job search. We talked for a few minutes and for the first time I made my father laugh.
In my evolution, I have been very angry about the absence of a father and then felt apathetic about it. Ambivalent. Now, I feel open to the idea of a relationship with my father.
The best of all possible worlds, in my opinion, is the one you shape. Not the one that is shaped for you. I may not have been born into the best of all possible worlds but I live in a world where I can make it that way.
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