Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Past

Dear Ginger and Ollie,

So I'm watching some Mad Men and I hear this speech out of Don that really touches a cord with me. It's basically a monologue about how broken a man he is and how he's had to pretend to love his children over the years and how that makes him wonder if his father was pretending to love him. It's a very "Boohoo, I had a bad childhood and that's what made me a shitty person", kind of ordeal.

At first I found myself very much commiserating with Don. I didn't have such a bang up childhood myself. For reasons I don't fully understand, my father wasn't around when I was born. In fact, I didn't meet him until I was seven years old.

I don't really remember having any real longing for a father figure or really feeling particularly curious about why my friends had fathers and I didn't. It was simply a fact of life and I was pretty cool with it. I had my grandmother (Mommom), and I had my mom and, so far as I was concerned, we were content.

I don't really remember the how the timeline unfolded, but in the span of two weeks, I met my father for the first time, my parents got married, and we moved from just south of Philadelphia, to Southern California.

I remember feeling very apprehensive about the man and very protective when it came to my mother. It was a really confusing time for me. I didn't really trust this new person in my life, and I certainly missed Mommom. Looking back it felt a lot like I lost a parent, instead of gained one.

Over the years life kind of devolved from there. I was always afraid of my father, and I did a lot of things to try and avoid his ire. I found school to be a particularly comforting place. I knew I was safe there.

It wasn't a pretty time in my life and I try not to dwell on it, but at the same time, those trials made me who I am. I can look back on those times, and I can find the things I never want to do with you. I never want you to be afraid of me. I never want you to wonder if I love you. That's what I take away from that time.

My father may not have taught me many things, but he did teach me about the man I don't want to be.

I may get frustrated with you over the years and I may be disappointed, but I will always love you. I will never kick you when you're down.  I will never try to deter you from trying new matter how stupid I may think that thing is (so long as it's legal). I will not be your friend, but I will always listen to you.

And I hope that I can be the example for you, that my father never was for me.