Friday, May 13, 2005

On becoming a man.

When I was 19 years old, I decided that my father was an utter asshole. I picked up the phone, told him to go fuck himself and didn't see him for another 6 years.
Still, some years later, I found myself on an empty railroad platform awaiting a stranger that I hated and loved. He had grown a little fatter, and he still smelled of cheap cologne and tobacco. It was a pleasant surprise to see him wearing old faded jeans and a stained shirt, instead of a suit and tie. We embraced and all was fine. Before taking me to his home, we stopped at a roadside cafe for coffee and all things considered, I thought that was a mighty fine idea.
We talked about nothing, watching the sunset, through the restaurant windows. The skin on his hands had become almost translucent, there were veins running right under the skin. In a rough way, he was a beautiful man. We talked about nothing. And yet, somewhere up my spine, two weary soldiers were staring at each other with tears in their eyes. The hostilities were over.
We drove to his home in silence. He lived in a 17th century schoolhouse, under the shade of an even older village church. I met his new woman, and fell in love with her. She was the embodiment of the wildness he had never been able to express. She had been his high school sweetheart. Back together after 40 miserable and lonely years. I played with his seven cats. I lost a wrestling match with his three enormous dogs. I drove his woman up the wall by refusing to refer to him by his name, or by "daddy". He was my father and I addressed him as such. And all this while, I didn't feel a thing.
I didn't speak much the next few days. Neither did I think much. We took long walks through the Frysian fields and forests. We went sailing in his crappy little plastic boat that he would have given his life for. And once in a while there was a spontaneous, but uncomfortable hug. Two men loving each other unconditionally and neither having the faintest clue how to express it.
He had a another guest over for a day. The talk was polite and witty. In the morning we took her back to the railwaystation, an hour and a half through the most beautiful country in the world. The guest and my father in front having another witty conversation, and me in the backseat, quiet. I remember the look on the guests face when she turned around and saw the tears streaming down my face. She never mentioned it.
After we dropped the guest off, years of pent-up grief started flooding my eyes, my nose, my cheeks. I had no idea why I was crying. My father cursed; went silent; and cursed again. "Tough guys don't cry eh? Father?", I managed to squeeze out of my blocked throat. He never answered. Pissed off for being in a situation that he had no idea how to handle. Pissed at himself for having no clue how to console his son. He never asked me why I was crying. He just stared straight ahead at the road.
I didn't realize it at the time, but something had fundamentally changed in me that day. I had left the disneyworld of childhood and I had become a man. My father never bothered to ask why I had been crying. I guess he didn't need to.

5 Comments:

Blogger Sassy said...

Bulb...you are more than just a man...you are a real man. You are a beautiful person, anyone who doesnt see that...needs therapy! =D

Love ya

10:25 PM  
Blogger kris said...

wow...this was deep. i started tearing up while reading this. awww bulb. hugs...bout all i can do. this entry is far beyond a smartassed two bit saying that i usually offer. sniffles... damn allergies, grabs tissue.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous HF said...

I love your well written stories.
Thank for sharing them.

12:14 AM  
Blogger RK said...

"definitely going to hell now"??

no,no,no...look at this site. You have to see it at least once in your life:

whowilldietoday.blogspot.com

11:51 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

you moved me. wow.

4:06 AM  

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