10 Days of 10 Years Later – Day 05
Why haven’t I been putting quotes on pictures of Dad since day 01? See? I’m really flying by the seat of my pants here. I’ll probably go George Lucas the others though, and insert photos when all of this is done. Side note: It’s bugging the living Hell out of me that there’s a typo in the above photo, but I’m racing the clock to start crying, so I gotta just let it go. I’ll probably fix that later too.
And like that, with this post I’m half way done. Its moved so quickly, and yet taken its toll. I’m far more introspective than my girlfriend would prefer right now, as she’s getting her bits and pieces together for her brother’s upcoming wedding. She could use more support I think, and I try to give it to her, but I’m also quite consumed with sorting out the questions put forward in part 1. But she’s also very supportive of me in this endeavor, and that’s something I’ll never take for granted. But still, I feel like a poor boyfriend.
I don’t think I can answer if my father, Adam42 and Adam32 would be friends without first breaking down how they make and treat friends, internally and externally. I’ve been there for the two Adams, but I’ll have to extrapolate for my father, based upon what I saw of him in his life.
I can’t tell you much about Dad’s friendships. I know I didn’t really ever see him “hanging out” with friends once I was in my teens. Maybe once a month with a work friend, and he only had a couple of those. He spent most of his non-work time sitting at our dining room table, listening to the radio louder than a person should reasonably be comfortable with while drinking a suitcase of beer and smoking a pack of cigarettes.
That wasn’t as true when I was just a boy. I only remember Dad out with a handful of friends on occasion, but rare ones. Usually it was a couple or two that we had known from Camp Fire. Except on Sundays. Every Sunday morning during the pre-dawn our social time would begin. The whole nuclear family; Dad, mom, my older sister, and myself would cram into mom’s 1978 white Volvo station wagon and head the 1/2 mile from our house to the Dana Point Harbor, also known as “baby beach” by the locals. Once there, as the sun was just cresting over the horizon, he’d set up beach chairs for he and my mother, lay out beach towels and tarps to cover a square of rarified beach real estate equal to the size of a bachelor apartment, sit down with a big mug of coffee with my mother, and wait for the friends to come.
And come they would. A gaggle. Maybe, I don’t really know how much a gaggle is, but dammit it seems like a whole bunch without being a stampede. A good 10 couples, some with kids, some without, would start populating the beach shortly after we arrived and staked claim, would drop their chair/towels/coolers down in Dad’s wall-less beach front studio apartment and start gabbing happily. And there we all would stay, us kids playing in the water, while the adults sat on the beach, drank some beer and chatted the day away while tanning.
And I do literally mean “chatted the day away,” we wouldn’t pack up to go home until the sun was hanging threateningly low in the sky. This is something we did every Sunday. For years. I can’t tell you how many, because the first film evidence of my life is as an infant on that beach. I can’t tell you when it ended, because it was so much of my life, but I’d wager around 10.
There were several conversations going on in the community, but always at the center in his collapsible, aluminum-tubed throne (which always seemed to reach just a little taller than everyone else’s) sat my mother and father. Dad could deftly throw comments in to several conversations, sling a half-honest insult one direction, then shift his head a little and offer advice another direction, while tracking a third conversation with his enormous radar-dish ears.
That was Dad, charming as hell. Why don’t I remember seeing him with more people?
I look at his old photos and I see him with groups of people, often being the one sticking out for doing something just a little different from the rest.
By the way, that might as well be a picture of my legs. Throw a 4 inch scar across the left knee and that’s me. Weird.
I think, looking at the places where Dad had the most friends; work, the beach apartment he set up every Sunday, Camp Fire, were all places with structure. From that I’m making the leap to think that my Dad maybe did better with “structured fun.” A place with a set of rules, either declared or implied, with a structured activity and a set in/out time was possibly a comfort to my dad. I don’t know. I could be wrong. Mom, if you read this, will you let me know your thoughts on this? Who am I kidding? Mom doesn’t internet. If someone who knows Mom reads this, can you ask her to read this and let me know her thoughts? Screw it, I’ll call her tomorrow.
As he got older, he withdrew more. Once he got sick the first time, he withdrew even more than that. He reconnected with a number of his old friends very late in life, but so much time was lost at that point, and he could do so little. When we crossed the terminator from father/son to father/adult child caretaker he confessed to me on more than one occasion that he was terrified of dying and having no one show up to his funeral.
But what some people knew and I suspect many did not, is that Dad would drop everything when a friend, even one he hadn’t seen in a long time, called and needed something serious. There wasn’t a question. You were always a friend. And that’s what you do for friends.
After he died, I swore that sort of detachment from friends he seemed to carry was something I would never do.
I’ve started several sentences and deleted them here, because I simply didn’t know what the right next thing was.
And then I realized why I couldn’t find the next beat. I’ve been describing myself. I thrive in social situations with structure. High school I would bounce from one group to another, making jokes, throwing casual and half-true insults at people, while listening to what was happening in another social group. I was welcome everywhere. Granted, I didn’t know that then. I felt I was overstaying my welcome, so I’d jump in, be charming, and then either leave or hang back a while.
I have a great number of friends within the Lindy Hop community. But even there still 20+ years after high school, I’m still eager to bounce from one group to another to avoid overstaying my welcome.
At my father’s funeral, a handful of friends showed up. I didn’t expect them. I didn’t even know they knew where the funeral was. They surprised the hell out of me that it would be of value to them to show up to a funeral for a man they never met. They’ll never understand how much seeing them meant to me. I doubt they know that if they ever called and said they needed something, I wouldn’t ask questions, I’d just go. When I asked in yesterday’s post for people to please give me feedback, one person answered. But that person is a friend. A good friend. Her opinion counts for 100,000. On the post before, completely unsolicited, another friend told me to keep posting. That was enough to make this worthwhile as anything other than a personal journal.
But I rarely see any of them.
Hell, Hemstead had a stroke in Washington and I dropped what I was doing. I flew back a couple of months later to help pack up his house to move to Minnesota. But I’ve not been there simply to be social. And this is one of my closest friends. The friend who responded without solicitation I’ve not seen in I don’t know when, and the friend who is the only person to respond when I posted yesterday I see once a year, twice if we’re lucky. And it’s always her down here, never me up there. I’ve never seen their house. Or the house before it. And it’s not for a lack of love. I would walk through literal Hell with these people, but I’m afraid of overstaying my welcome every time I see them.
I pulled back a lot from friends after Dad died, and I focused on my career. I was 10 years behind where I should be, and I needed to move forward with it. I didn’t have the security blanket of a father to help me out if I got in dutch and couldn’t find freelance work. But also, I lost the person I had focused the most attention on for 13 years, and I switched that focus to work.
There are so many friends I rarely speak to that probably don’t know the lengths I’d go through with an earnest phone call needing help.
I don’t know if Dad went through this, but the evidence points that way. Maybe I’m projecting myself onto some anecdotal evidence of characteristic similarities, it’s hard to say alone in a dark room at the bottom of a Maker’s Mark (don’t get haughty on me).
Maybe I’m becoming the person I promised myself I would never let myself be when I saw it reflected in Dad’s experiences. Maybe I’m broken. I don’t know. But I know I can’t go on anymore tonight. I have some thinking to do.
Posted on March 7, 2016, in America, Candidate Bios, Oh Noes!, Sexy Adventures and tagged 10 days of 10 years later, Anniversary, Dad, forgiveness, march 12th, simpson. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.