On Divorce And Picking Sides
Lawyers have been hired, papers have been drawn and I am to pick a parent. Pick a side. When it comes down to it, I side with my mother because she raised me. She was faithful and loyal and loved me more than one person should ever love another. I owe her all of the time she put into me and more. I owe her my allegiance.
But I am my father. Somehow, despite the countless months of his absence in my home and my childhood, she brought me up to be the person she can no longer stand. I guess that’s the irony of this whole mess.
“But you’re different from him in all of the right ways,” my mother says.
“I know I am,” I lie.
I have a stronger sense of right and wrong than he does, she says, a trait that comes from living through his mistakes, his weakness. But I have slept in the arms of a man with a girlfriend. Though he vowed they were no longer together, that he wanted me more than he ever did her, I knew the truth when he left the room and I found that photograph. Two smiling faces, bodies bare, laying on the bed in which I had just spent the night. I should have walked out, but I simply turned the picture over, lay back down and waited for him to return. So in that way, I am my father.
I have more of a filter than he does, she says, one I learned the importance of through watching his friends fall away one by one as he carelessly voiced his every uncensored thought. A writer, he is a man of many words and his abrasive candor makes it hard to stay his friend, his wife. But there have been times I have said too much. I have on many occasions called a friend something terrible only to shrug off their shock and wait for them to get over their sensitivity. I rarely apologize. In that way, I am my father.
I am more truthful than he is, she says, something he never quite understood the importance of. She believes me with the trust of a child, my mother. There is truthful, and then there is believable. I am nothing but an impeccable liar with an innocent smile. In that way, I am my father.
I am less dependent on drugs than he is, she says, but I’m getting there.
My father and I lay on the floor of his home office as I wonder aloud whether or not she really needs another him in her life. He doesn’t say a word, for he knows who he is. Who we are. He rolls a joint on an old family photo, a false memory of a seemingly happy time. We have done this so many nights before, but tonight’s different. Tomorrow, he is gone.
As we listen to Ray LaMontagne and watch the smoke linger overhead, I confide in him. I remind him of our shared flaws and her broken heart. I ask, I beg, for advice. He takes a hit. Thinks. “Be who I couldn’t be for her,” he says as he exhales, “She deserves the her in you, not the me.” He passes me the joint. I take a hit. He smiles a smile quite like my own and I realize she is someone I do not know how to be.
“We’re not so bad, though, you and I,” my father says.
“I know we’re not,” I lie.
A | A | A
The first time I saw you, I was working in a coffee shop up in the mountains.
I want to heal people’s hurt. Make them realize it’s not a perfect world but there are still people out there, like me, who are broken but believe in love anyway. Who want to make other people happy.
Still, all of the above is still better than having a roommate, am I right #studiostrugglers?
Our 20s begin halfway to the end.