Don’t let life discourage you…everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.
What a joy it is to be up at 4 am. Sleep is always hard to come by at the end of the year.
Might as well make some coffee, sit on the sofa and watch the ceiling fan blades make their never ending clockwise journey and think about what was, what is, and what could be.
I sigh and remove the eyeglasses from the bridge of my nose and rub my eyes with my thumb and forefinger.
My introspective moment is shaken by a voice from the love seat sitting adjacent to the sofa….
“Why don’t I have any hair?” The strangely high pitched yet familiar voice questioned.
I put my glasses back on and look in the direction that the voice centered from.
I was quite surprised to see…me.
Minus 30 years, waiting for a response.
I returned the question with a bewildered look and asked,
I took off the baseball cap I always wore, pointed at my bowl cut, unruly, red hair that hung just over my eyebrows and said,
“Where does my hair go?….I mean you are me…..except bald….why?”
As I look at my younger self, I question whether I should respond with the truth about the cranium shaving or avoid the impending heartbreak of me knowing why….years before I should.
I mean….would the 14 year old me believe it….even understand? Would it change anything?
I bite my bottom lip while I decide.
“Mom does that when she doesn’t want to tell me truth about something….” I say from the love seat.
“Does what?” I reply.
“Bites her bottom lip. You’re not gonna answer me….are you?”
I chuckle to myself….about myself…at how even at such a young age I realized my Mother’s nuances and apparently took them on myself.
“No. Not right now. Maybe later. I would like to know how you got here and why you are here.”
I look back at my younger self and wait for a reply.
My 14 year old self squints his eyes and unknowingly begins to bite his bottom lip while searching his own cranium for the answer.
“I don’t know….the last thing I remember is Mom telling me I had to go to bed…..Dad is drunk again and took off in the car. I hate him when he drinks…does he ever stop for good?”
I look deep into the eyes of my younger self and see……and feel….actually feel the pain and despair that I felt back then about life at home.
My Mom tried so hard to keep a sane and normal home life while dealing with an alcoholic husband. Our normal was not everyone else’s normal, but it was the only normal we knew.
Outside appearances were important. We tried to keep the implosion tightly within the confines of our crumbling family. Our job as the kids was to act like everything was great when out of the house. When at home, the reality was Dad was someone we hated (when he drank) and we didn’t know what to do.
I pondered how I should reply. Would telling me the truth alter what ends up happening? Would I believe me either way? Is this really happening?
Am I really having a conversation with a 14 year old me?
Hope wins out. I remember that at that particular age that all I wanted was hope.
“Things will be tough…..but he does stop. If you can do anything just hold on to that. Eventually…..he does stop.”
My 14 year old self relaxes a little and smiles. Then looks up at the sky and slumps his shoulders and says,
“I gotta go. Mom has to get Dad out of jail again….I gotta watch the babies. You sure he stops?”
I look at myself and fight back the tears of yesteryear and memories of how hard it was, what happened, and what eventually came to be and reply….
“Yeah, just hold on and never…ever…give up hope. Sometimes….that’s all you got.”
I smile and look back up at the ceiling fan that is still in its perpetual turn for a moment to stop the tears from falling then look back at the love seat which sits empty…..
Except for the baseball cap I always wore when I was 14.
To continue to Part 2 press “here“