“He built it himself, with his own hands. It’s weird, my parents not living there, anymore. It’s going to be weird, walking up to some strangers and going, ‘Hey. Do you mind if I show my wife the inside?’”
Sometimes I think about the house your father built. No matter what else happened or didn’t happen, that seems to be the easiest truth left standing.
I wonder, if you really did swallow all those pills in college and slept with blood so thin, whether or not you pissed your pants. Before, I didn’t even think to ask, and you failed to mention. So that leaves me wondering.
I think about how in a few weeks, I’m going to be the same age you were when I was sixteen. You were supposed to be so smart and experienced, and yet here I am, at a place they claim I’d only understand once I was older. And guess what? Looks like you didn’t know everything. At all.
I think about how I’ve spent the past few years hoping to reach you, somehow. You abandoned everything here in a respectful vow to a better life, so I never took very drastic measures in finding you. Every few months I checked the internet for your name. Neal’s concert at Carnegie. Your Brotherhood chapter. Proof that the story in my mind hadn’t been a dream.
Eventually, and I mean, after a very long time, I started to think of what I never liked about you. No matter how hard you claimed to disprove it, the design you wrote everything into fit a Southern Baptist cliche, from the homophobic republican bit down to your righteous laws on love. A few of those were greatly challenged, I understand, and yet some things you may never – as I can now dare to realize – begin to understand even if you experience them firsthand. Like, how hard Celine Dion blows, for example.
I think about “Titanic” whenever I see used VHS copies propped up on the shelves of our used media store. Just the sight of that thick, 2 cassette package decorated with a sappy photo of the leading characters forces me to turn my head. Over time, my Sap-tolerance faded with the popularity of that film. Since then, I’ve replaced its poster on my wall with a framed photo of Leonardo in Rolling Stone, smoking a cigarette beside the quote: “Titanic is something that will never happen again – nor will I ever try to repeat it.”
With you gone, at least, there isn’t a better writer around. Because we both know who the real writer was. Anything I do is merely fucking around, in comparison. If they think that I can get a story across, then you must have the ability to transport an entire world apart with the power of words. You did, for me, after all.
My biggest regret came from using a name I couldn’t live up to. As Faith, I didn’t have enough in myself. Every time we drew each other in was another reason to fear that you’d eventually see less than my best and then ultimately ruin whatever you liked so much, about me. And I guess-that no matter what, I always refused to believe that…that’s where the story dropped off. Things have happened to me since that were massive and very demanding for room in my heart – every day the noise comes and goes, breezing in and out of my life as I’m figuring out who I am. But for years after you disappeared without warning, I allowed an unfinished ending to taint every decision I made.
I saw your website last weekend, in what was going to be the yearly, five-minute check. I saw you had changed your name. I saw that she had her baby girl. Beautiful, even despite the gay “angel” blanket trend and pink clothes from hell. Looking hard through the corniness of loving family-owned business complete with images saturated in nauseating holiness, I’d found you.
Even though I’m glad that I wasn’t in that photo, wearing some ritualistic dress (another issue we disagreed on unbenownst to you), seeing and officially knowing that you had taken her, changed enough to stun me. My mother walked into the kitchen, glanced at the laptop and reached for her glasses. In dead silence, we scrolled the last page, together.
“You’d think he was normal from the way he worded that. Must be on meds.” She removed her glasses, took her water glass, and went to bed. Just like that. And I had to smile…
because against my will, she’d been along for the ride, too. In her mature, over-the-hill kind of way, she had perceived most of what I had. She was there when your track hurdle broke. She was there when the cop shined his flashlight onto the man passed out by the tombstone. She was there through the curse of 7. To have her say that, acknowledging the selfish, sick bastard who told me that he loved me, meant a lot. God, she hated you.
I’m okay feeling alone right now but I was so sure, at one time, you’d walk along with me. I had you all picked out when I was still waiting for driver’s training, getting on and off the bus every day. The plan was followed, after all, for years. I was loyal to it and even from now on (which is what life has been since Monday), however far along the road I am, should I come upon a passing train, I’ll feel that .0001% chance of jumping it to Missouri,
and passing the house your father built.