Letters From the Eastside – Letter Thirteen

Dear Mother Directional,

Good morning, Mother. I hope that you are doing well and that the heat hasn’t been too much for you. It seems that yesterday’s humidity was unbearable here in New York City. Days like this always seem to result in a storm and that’s exactly what happened.
The heat and humidity grew too much and eventually, the sky just couldn’t take it anymore. The thunder roared over Midtown and out of nowhere, a downfall of rain came like never before.

There is a private bathroom in a dentist’s office on the second floor at the commercial high rise building where I work. The funny thing about this is when the rains are too heavy, the toilet backs up and explodes with fountains of sewage water because the drains can’t seem to take the flash-flooding. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been inside of the bathroom when this takes place – or better yet, no one has ever been caught in this while sitting on the toilet.  

The building’s maintenance team explained that this is due to the various roof drains collecting so much water that the main drains cannot keep up. Hence, the back up and hence the old faithful like explosion from the toilet. I wonder if this is a moment of nature representing life.

There are times when I go back to the memory of Father Correctional while he was working in the backyard of our home. I remember this. I remember us when we first moved in. I was barely knee-height to you at the time.
I can remember the photographs of us from this time, young as ever, and alive in an almost technicolor state which is also a way that I recall the times that are otherwise known as the 1970’s. This is where my journey of life began.
I can see this picture of us in my mind. You and Father Correctional standing to pose for a picture. Both of you are young and smiling from the smiles of old times. Your eyes beaming with happiness and pride because, of course, this was you both standing in front of your first new home – a house, yours, and best of all, this was picture perfect in the safer suburbs, placed on a lot which was equivalent to nearly a quarter acre. Ah, the times of the world, how they were different then.
The lovingness of our world seemed more abundant at this time – or perhaps this was because times were different. Or maybe my relation to the time is different from anyone else’s. However, I can recall the early times. I can remember the move from a place called Forest Hills, Queens and a duplex apartment which is probably priced out of this world in today’s market. 

I can see you in my mind’s eye. Happy, young and proud. You are about to embark on a new journey and I am only new to the world. I am a young sponge, absorbing the lessons of life and admiring what I see and taking in everything I can consume as if this were law and gospel.

I wish I could go back and say a few things. I wish I could tell us to stay young. Don’t change this.
Don’t change anything about this. Stay this way.
Be happy. Do not be misled by the tragedies which are yet to come.
Do not give in to arguments. Do not say things that can be irreparable or be mean just to win a fight. 

I would say to hold on to what’s good because the mind has a tendency to hold resentments and the wrongs of everything and everyone else around us. This blinds us; but more, this becomes a theft of service and we lose to the criminals in our mind which have robbed us of better times simply because our mind is elsewhere instead of in the present.
I would say to hold your tongue. Don’t say it because you might not really mean it. Let the moment pass before you speak. I would say that things are about to happen and life is about to unfold but you can endure this. You just have to hold strong and keep your footing so as not to lose your balance.

There will be arguments and there will be fights. I would say there are going to be moments when I grow and there will be times when I face the confusions of the crowd or the challenges inside the classroom.
If I could go back to say anything, I would tell you that the boy I was is afraid – I never wanted to let anyone down and in fear that I was a disappointment, I did disappointing things.

I wish I could go back and tell you to have patience – or at minimum, I wish I could go back and tell Father Correctional that due to a certain chemistry that was beyond my control, I struggled in school. I had problems with understanding the material. I could never read very well, let alone understand what I was reading in the first place.
I never meant for this to happen. I never asked to be “special” so-to-speak.
For some reason, reading and learning was not my strong point. Neither was my time in the classroom. There were times when the pressure from this was too great for me and there were times, like the storms from yesterday in New York City, when the rains were just too much and I just couldn’t take it.

I think about the time Father was working in the backyard. It was summer. He was building a shed in the corner of our backyard when the sky began to change. He was trying to get everything done before the storm hit but time is a funny thing. We don’t always have enough of it and out of nowhere, time runs out.

I can remember the sky opened up and the rain came quickly. I remember Father Correctional came inside.
He was looking out the window of our back door. His eyebrows were folded downward and his face seemed intense; as if he was feeling the rage of the storm – he appeared resentful and mad that this was his reality. He was angry that he missed the window to finish his work.

The rain was so much that the droplets were huge, as if a deluge fell from the sky to drown the sorriness of Earth in a quick exhibition of nature’s capability.

Father was watching the rainfall but me, I was watching him. I could feel his struggles. I could feel his anger which was clear and present in the expression on his face.
Then, like a light bulb, an idea took over his face.

Father retreated from the door and ran to the bedroom. He put on a bathing suit and then went into the bathroom to grab some soap and shampoo from the shower. He ran past me and instructed me to hold a towel and “be ready.”
Then he came to the back door again, walking outside in the inundation of rain and beneath the heavy downpour, Father Correctional bathed in the outside rains as if this shower were able to wash him clean and cleanse his frustration.
Or, maybe there comes a point in life when the heat is too much and the friction of our days kicks up too much dust, which is why Mother Earth reminds us to hush. If we don’t, she steps in with a huge rainstorm to stop us, to let us know, and to keep the humidity at bay. Then the great Mother of Earth sends down a team of heavy raindrops to stop the debris of our crazy lives – then she washes us beneath a gray sky. As for the thunder, this is a voice from the lightning which is a representation of us and our heated collisions that have built up to a biblical proportion.

Mother, I think this is the reason why I do not mind rainy days so much. But more, I think this is why I have an appreciation for the heaviness of a downpour to cleanse the earth and, at minimum, to make us stop for a second.

Father Correctional came back in after his act of supplicating with the angry sky. He absorbed the rains and then he cleansed himself as if to say, “I think I get it now.”
He came back inside and grabbed the towel, which I was instructed to hold for him until his return.
The shower in the rainstorm took no more than a few minutes. However, this memory of Father Correctional and his supplication with the heavens and his treaty with the moment; to agree to the terms of the world’s power, which is beyond our control – to surrender to fact without submitting his will – I see this and understand that there are times when the world will not work according to our schedule.
Not everything will go as planned. Sometimes, plans fall apart.
Life falls apart. Shit happens but either one of two results belong to us; we can wallow and be mournful or sad – or, we can endure the rains and surpass the lugubrious sky, dark as it is, and then we wait because it can’t rain forever.
So while it rains, let this wash us clean. Let this settle the dust from our crazy screw-ups and our overly heated expressions.
So, once the thunder warns us and lightning strikes – let us heed the words of Mother Earth because she is telling us something and eventually the sun will come back and dry us again.

I have to go now Mother.

As always, I will write to you again tomorrow.
Love always,
Your son


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