Monday, April 23, 2012

Home Stretch

It was once said that no one ever washed a rental car – a commentary on ownership which has crossed my mind more than a few times of late.  It was a bit over four years ago that I ventured forth from the basement lair (some might say man cave but that would not be an accurate depiction) and rented an apartment.  Some belongings from the old house, a few trips to Ikea and a one year lease.  Even the year lease seemed long for what was surely a brief experiment, a way station on that circuitous path back home.  Before I knew it the landlord wanted to know my plans; another one year lease – the rates were good for the two years, but that took me to a faraway date, very far away.

Well the second year also passed and now with recession surrounding us all, the two year renewal was financially attractive.  A long commitment but at some point the cheap gene kicks in and if after two years I am still here, another two is seeming much shorter.  Lo and behold, the next two years passed and with them the dream of going back to what once was.  And the renewal notice again appeared.
After four years in my picturesque but rather inconvenient town, it was time to take a look around – there are other rentals.  But the housing crash and recession linger so with prices down, mortgage rates at historic lows, by any estimation this is a good time to buy.  And buy I did, a modest – cozy as the brokers say – place; better configuration for my kids, and closer to everything.  A little painting, some minor construction and bring on the moving vans.

Once there it became apparent to me in different ways – internally and also interactions with Phil and Carrie – that something had changed.  Life was no longer measured in one year lease terms, the concept of a way station on my way home no longer held water.  This car would be washed; it was mine with a mindset of staying a decade.  My relationship with Carrie particularly suffered – not in any way directly to do with the new home – my fingers have done it again with the word “home”.  I had moved from my apartment, from the way station on the journey to my new home.

The move was four months ago and it is easy to blame another brutal tax season for the delay in writing these words, but it was much more.  It was the unsettled landscape but yesterday the tremors and aftershocks faded.  I had the kids for a multi-night sleepover, Carrie had a little needed time for her and when I returned with them, Carrie and I sat at the table and talked – not of big things but of little ones and it was as friends.  How much the tension weighed on me was not apparent until some of it lifted and maybe now we can both move a bit forward without false illusions. 

The return train left the station a long time back but it has taken me a long time to accept. It's time.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Who'll Stop The Rain?

SueAnn has proven to be quite the reader – an hour or so of reading and the e-mail: questions and comments which should only become more interesting as things really start to heat up.  Yesterday she read Rage and wondered of her brother, a gentle child I gather, who in his late teens developed his own anger and rage.  A vignette appeared – his children inadvertently locked out of the house, a cold night, and a discussion: hypothermia or wake Dad?  As I read it another vignette came to mind, one that has heretofore escaped these pages. 

Must be close to a decade ago now and we decided that the little ones – maybe nine years old – needed to go camping.  A new tent, some other equipment and it is time for a test run – one night in a campground not far from home.  My boys are with me along with their cousin – three healthy teenagers to join our quest.  Now my boys are not much for camping but there is not really much discussion. We – they – are going camping and I suppose one could add and they will like it.

Now we are seven, a bit much for even our beautiful new Eureka tent so a second tent is somewhere found – Carrie, the young ones  and me in our tent and the boys, lucky them, get their own tent.  The weather had a chance of rain, but everyone knows the weather man is always wrong.  Anyway, what better way to test the new tent?

Night falls, we curl up in our sleeping bags and yes, the rains come. And come. And come.  Oh yes, the winds join the party.  Our tent is beautiful, rain tarp taut, tent lightly swaying in the wind. Nice and dry.  At some point – maybe 11 PM, one son comes over.  Their tent is not faring as well, there is some leaking.  It is late, we are camping.  I assure him it will be fine and anyway there is not much to be done.  An hour passes and he is back.  Their tent is faring poorly, something about a water condition. 

He suggests they could sleep in the car – a nice Suburban with plenty of space.  All they need is the car keys. We are there to camp, spread out in our sleeping bags, being real men, not wimps huddled in the car.  My tent is fine; how bad can theirs really be.  Character building, what a Dad does for his sons.   He goes back to the tent, I go back to sleep, the car keys sitting idly in some pocket.

Dawn breaks, the rain has let up and I go to see how my little men, real men have fared.  They are wet.  The tent is wet. The sleeping bags are wet.  I suspect the sleeping bags stayed wet for a period measured not in hours but in weeks. Even I can see the evidence, the evidence of terrible judgment, of child rearing gone horribly awry.

There are many family stories – every family has them – but there is not much humor in this, not even with years to recover.  I have apologized, they have accepted, but it happened and it never had to.  So I read of this other man and for a moment thought poorly of him but then realized that I actually thought poorly of myself.

The question of course is where does all this come from – the rage, the controlling, the veneer of fear.  (Veneer is such a nice word, a thin layer of bad hiding my internal good.  I could, should, change the word but it shall stay as a reminder of the depth of my delusions.) To say it comes from the repressed gayness feels way too easy, life is much more complex than that.  But then there is the “new” Dad, the calmer model.  There are the comments of friends of my new found calmness.  I would like to tell them, tell them all, that I was always calm; they just weren’t looking hard enough.  But as a good friend says, when three people tell you are drunk it is time to lie down.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where Was I?

Recently I met a childhood friend of Phil's and we were making conversation, passing the time and the subject turned to writing. SueAnn spent much of her life writing for a living - magazine articles, commentary - focused non-fiction in her field so keeping up my end of the conversation, and undoubtedly ego driven, I volunteered that I had recently done a significant writing project - this Blog.  It is not a secret and a number of people know of it and that is typically the end of the story.  So I was caught unawares when SuAnn wrote to Phil asking for my email so she could ask how to find the darn thing.  Of course the soaring ego was tempered with the fears, the fear of sharing so much of myself and those around me, the fear that it would be banal when read after the fact, the fear the writing would not measure up - all the usual suspects.  And thrown into the mix was Phil's fear of what she may learn about him, her very old friend. Not the gayness, he has been out to her for a while, more any embarrassments.  Uncharted territory.

At first it seemed easy - Phil was my excuse, easy to hide. But then an email, an explanation.  SueAnn's brother passed away, maybe five years ago, and after his death it was uncovered that he had a gay side.  She loved her brother and is still coming to grips, grips with the secret, grips with the gayness, grips with what he must have gone through.  Upon reading that, and a few further emails, a plan was hatched.  Phil does not join my tale until rather late in the story; by the time SueAnn gets that far, we can see if editing is necessary or if the fears are all in our minds. 

So it was with a sense of excitement and trepidation that I opened this blog, saw the picture and the layout, and in essence said hello to an old friend. I often think about this friend, frequently have thoughts that need to be put to paper - not for anyone reading but so I will have a chance to revisit some day.  I know, they sell diaries, but it just is not the same for me for reasons I cannot understand no less explain.  And then while there, standing in the foyer, a quick peek inside; I read the last post.  It was going to be part 1 of yet another triptych but there it was, a full year later, standing all alone, a story started and never finished.  There was work - there is always work - and there were distractions but that was not why the post was all alone.  It was that Carrie was peeking and I was afraid to share and afraid to hurt, hurt more than I seem to do regularly.  I suspect that after a year it is quiet out there, no one around and that is okay.  But I do miss this place and maybe it is time for a few more visits.