He’s a mess. “A fucking mess most of the time.” Some inherit their father’s eyes or money or religion. I inherited his fucking mess. I say this with the utmost satisfaction. Not that I am necessarily pleased, not exactly that I am skirting my own role in my messiness- but I am certainly not resentful. It causes me to wrestle with predestination and free-will. Not in matters concerning my heavenly Father, but wholly concerning the matters of my unholy father. From the moment his sinning hands held me and gazed into my churning blue eyes, was I fated to mirror him? Like the creases in our thumbs? Faded Levis aren’t my style- hell, I am sure they aren’t his anymore- but I still sport his genes. I wear them like a scarlet letter now.
Every couple years, he shows me a letter that he writes to his siblings. In past cases, I have read these letters the sort of way one might read an instruction manual for a television. Hm, he is saying x. Interesting. Now moving on. There’s a definite sarcasm, and a slight undertone of loathing for those that he writes to. More than skimming, less than analytical, I fuddle through his words. This morning while sipping black coffee and checking my email I saw one such letter in my inbox. It’s been a couple years, it was time I suppose. I’m pretty sure I don’t even like black coffee.
I usually read the middle of a letter, or book, first. Then the ending. Then the beginning. Well, then I read it through the right way. I found myself nodding and thinking, “I don’t go to church, either, Dad.” I imagine him there, seated at the foot of his dinner table, the surface still a little sticky from when his two boys decorated Christmas cookies. It’s one o’clock in the morning, and he’s sipping whiskey. No, I am sipping whiskey. He’s a vodka drinker, I suspect. But, alcohol choices are completely arbitrary- well maybe not. His headphones are in, and he is bent towards the page. He’s always loved a healthy piece of heavy parchment and a Cross pen. Perhaps an onlooker would imagine that this sophisticated attorney is listening to Vivaldi or Hayden. I, of course, know better. Freak folk and metal. Once I had sufficiently conjured up an image of what he probably did not even look like while writing, I was still content to sip my black breakfast and continue reading.
The uncomfortable words that he penned were like potholes on the page. They were real and disheveled. I could see his eyes, ragged and tired. The weary way they used to look in the 80’s. This time, however, they are heavy from the burden of mini vans and nightly dinners, not cocaine. But, I wonder what the exact difference is. Addiction and obligation and fixation and rejection (and an unhealthy fear of all these things). This is what drives the sad and wondering soul. This is what drives him to come clean. What drives me to flee. The things that drive into us like nails, the things that drive us together. There is a sinister irony creeping into the cracks of this dichotomy. Abrasive scriptures and broken philosophy texts have cornered me and forced me to seek out this pairing of right and completely wrong. To seek out where I came from, and subsequently be reminded of whose daughter I am.
I think that I would like to stumble across him at the Green Parrot. The Floridian breezes calming his arthritic aches. I’d smirk, watching him flirt casually with the tanned bartender only two inches taller than me, five years my senior, and a skirt three inches shorter than I would ever wear. He’s not sleazy about it, he’s classy. Maybe he wouldn’t even recognize me as I observe him, as I am nineteen pounds lighter and my hair is seven shades darker than it was last he saw me six years ago. I would be four drinks and one cigarette into my story, ignoring texts from a forty-something, hummer- driving stock broker who is certain he is in love with me.
I was suffocating when I was married. Now that I have escaped, I still can’t really breathe. But, I believe that maybe a few too many drinks and some soul-searching in Key West with the man who passed his messes on to me would be just the sort of breathing I could possibly do.