Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Grown Ass Kid's Lament

I'm not sure how many people have photos of their parents looking totally miserable while their expecting their first child, but I assume I'm not the only one.  Here is my mother and father.  She looks like she's being held captive (and in a way I think she certainly felt that way).  He looks forlorn and unsure (and in a way I think he certainly felt that way).  This was my beginning.  Two people who were just a few years away from the age of thirty, yet were too young to really know what they were doing in life and as parents.

Last Sunday, Father's Day I spoke with my dad on the phone.  It was a shorter conversation for he & I thus far clocking in at just under 50 minutes.  He had received the care package I sent and promptly thanked me for it.  I had sent him a small CD player.  See my dad played the guitar when he was younger and would sing me to sleep with it.  My dad could also play piano, bass guitar, and a few other instruments, all by ear and without formal training.  He was the first to teach me about music and from those teachings I developed a lifelong passion for it.  Though I don't personally play an instrument, music is at the center of my soul and without drama, I can say it has saved my life.  Since my dad is sick and doesn't play any of his 3 guitars that sit in his closet, I thought I'd send him the gift of music, as he didn't have a record player or tape player or computer or CD player.

My wife & I are basically broke so we went to Goodwill and found a nice little used player.  I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol, sort of rubbing my own love into it.  Then I burned CD's containing songs of artists he and I had talked about that he likes.  Aretha Franklin, Issac Hayes, Al Green, and more.  I spent the spare time I had not studying or feeling like shit physically to compile the music among three CD's.  I also sent a nice 5X7 photo of my wife and I and a nice Dad's day card that she picked out.

Later in my conversation with dad he asked me why I didn't drive, how my chronic illnesses affected me that week and how my wife was.  Then he said "you know I don't have much room in my apartment for a CD player."

I was quiet for a while.  There was not much to say because I knew that his sentence was not meant to hurt me, but that it did all the same.  Calmly I said if he didn't want it he could give it away or get rid of it.  I tried to not feel the ache in my heart that was building ever so slowly and think of other things to talk about.  Then I just ran out of things to say or ask and wished him a good night.

The week prior I had lost my shit and started crying on the phone with him.  My tenderness floated to the surface unexpectedly.

Often I think of the Martin Luther King Jr. book Strength to Love.  The title of the book is what gets me and the idea that to love, to really let go and open the heart, requires strength.  Somehow throughout the course of my life, faced with rejection, abuse, abandonment, not having any siblings, living on a block with no other kids until the age of 14, and being overly enmeshed with my mom; plus getting asthma and knee arthritis, and still somehow I managed to develop into a person capable of loving.  Add to all that childhood stuff being of color, queer, working class, and female.  Yet here I am, alive and chest deep in love and able to keep some semblance of faith in humanity.

Many times I wanted to be dead or at least not on this planet anymore.  I felt inherently broken and the proof was in the way my parents treated me.  The proof was in the way society treated me and other marginalized people.  There was proof every time I was rejected by someone or something for some reason.  But somehow I was always guided to a place of hope, even with tears streaming down my face.  Thanks to therapy, recovery, and some really wonderful friends, I have a life that is worth living and I am a person worth knowing, even if those who I wanted to know and really see me, couldn't.

All the shiny self-love in the world cannot shield one from a broken heart.  My heart is still broken and will likely be until I die.  Living is learning on a daily basis to breathe when restless, dream when drifting, and dance in the midst of pain.

I gave my daddy my heart in the form of a CD player but he doesn't have room for it.  Ashes of the dream of  a little girl finally having a dad are being sprinkled onto the sea of my psyche...

Death is a process.  The death of a dream that I've had since I was seven of what could have been.

But it is okay because I have music.  I get to keep the music.  And for the moment that works.

Songs listened to while writing this post include:

Tonight I'm Fine/How are You by Tim Christensen
The Ride by Joan as Police Woman
Every Night by Ed Harcourt
Hynm for You to Sing by Nina Kinert 
The Brothel by Susanne Sundfor
Which Will by Nick Drake

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