Pete asked me, unexpectedly, about my father. We were driving through the mountains to Long Beach to pick up Ravyn. I watched the hills rolling past the window. It helped me think, like walking at night does, or, when it’s too hot or too cold to walk outside, wandering the deserted aisles of the grocery store, wondering why they stay open until midnight when it seems that no one but me seems to come in after they dim the lights at ten. I was a million miles away from the memories of my father, but the mention immediately conjoured the unchanging mental collage that is my dad.
It seems to me that our view of each person we know is a montage of all the experiences we’ve had with them. It changes constantly, until the person dies and there are no more experiences. Then it is fixed, though in time, the picture softens around the edges and the colors shift a bit.
What I remembered at this particular instance was my mother’s voice asking my father why he had to do everything like he was putting out a fire. He did too. He approached everything that way, fast and furious.
Had I ever thought about why he might be like this?
No. Not really. And certainly not with the clarity gained from hills rolling past and cool air on my face.
He wanted to be a house painter. He told me once, that this was his version of heaven. He really loved painting. Houses. He wanted to buy a truck and supplies and start a house painting business. Instead he worked at the same job for over thirty years.
He tried really hard, but could never save enough money or find enough time to do it.
I watched him for years, fighting fires, and not getting to where he was running.
Mother’s struggles were more noticeable, spectacular at times. In contrast, his were nearly invisible. Taken for granted like the oboe in orchestra. Only appreciated in the thinness of its absence.
I hadn’t considered his stuggles, or their influence.
I hadn’t stepped back far enough to take in the whole picture. I've missed something obvious.
So I haven’t figured out yet, exactly why I push so hard. I don’t sense any fire. But I promised myself I’d get some sleep. So that’s what I’m going to do, right now.
Photos tomorrow, and something weird in threes…