I still think about this day, a Sunday morning, when I was back on the farm. I remember this because I had to go home for a day to see him. By him, I mean The Old Man.
I was taken home for a visit after learning that my Father had a heart attack. I was only home for a short amount of time yet I can remember walking back into my bedroom. I can recall standing at the doorway and looking in, as if I was returning to the scene of the crime – or should I say crimes.
It was amazing to me though; the way my bedroom looked. It was as if I was viewing a murder scene. You know the kind?
I mean the type of dramatizations where bodies were outlined in their last and final position. Only in this case, the bodies that were slain were more like the remnants of my past.
I had only been gone for a few months yet it was as if a lifetime went by.
I was different now. Everything was different.
I can remember opening the door to my room. I can remember standing there and looking around. It was so surreal. Though my room was no longer what it used to be, all the posters had been taken down and all of the teenage bullshit had been removed; still, I could see my old secret hiding spots. I could see them glaring at me in the way a ghost would haunt a soul.
I knew what had happened here and I couldn’t believe that this happened to me.
Fortunately, I was removed from my environment.
I was unwillingly saved yet I was saved nonetheless. But things were different now.
Suddenly the idea of life became real.
There is the saying that goes “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
The saying is true because this was me, on the verge of something that I could not yet define. I was snapped into submission and quiet like a child after being admonished or scolded by the belt or by hand. I was leashed to the cold hard facts of life – and just like that, the understanding of mortality became real.
In its true form, life decided to show up and me, I was away on a farm, maneuvering through a court-mandated punishment. I was a few months out of a life that was dying on a daily basis. There were no more blasts into a different atmosphere. There were no more infinite nods where my mind could shift into a slow gear, where the world could end, and nothing would make a difference to me.
I was unwillingly separated from myself and my choices; therefore, I was taken from the toxins of my daily poison. I was cleaned up with a haircut and some good-boy clothes.
I was told to walk the line, live straight as an arrow – no drugs, no drinking, no cigarettes, no music to glorify the culture of my previous lifestyle.
I was robbed of my usual routine and in its replacement, I was made to work on a farm and pray to a God which made no sense to me.
I was placed here in this therapeutic community as an alternative to prison. In spite of my realities and regardless of my legal consequences, I was looking to pull a scam just to find a new way to regulate my life.
I was belligerent and resistant yet I had no reason to think about life nor death; nor was there a reason to think about anything except the consequences of my behavior; which of course, I blamed on the world. I blamed my family. I blamed my problems on the fact that I was too short and too small and too thin. I was too stupid. I was too ugly.
I blamed my problems on the authority figures who influenced my life. I blamed the school systems for failing me. I blamed the legal system because although, yes, what I did was illegal and though my charges were rated as felonies – honestly, I believed what was happening to me was bullshit. I thought I should have been let off with a warning or a slap on the wrist. But since this was not an option, I thought I could somehow skip through and beat the system yet I couldn’t beat a drum with a drumstick. I couldn’t beat anything anymore, least of all my habits.
I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t leave the farm or if I did, I couldn’t handle the fact that I would have to complete my sentence in a state-run correctional facility.
This was all bullshit.
Every bit of it was absolute bullshit!
This was all something that was happening to me; as if I was a victim here.
Meanwhile, I was not a victim at all. However, I was more of a volunteer.
I signed up for all of this. I put my name on the contract, each and every time I loaded my pipe or opened up one of those tiny envelopes with off-white powder and ahh, this is how I forfeited my choices. This is where I lost my life to the bent ideas of how to get by.
I was deformed by my hate and distorted by my contempt.
For me, there was no reason to think ahead or to believe in this thing we call our future.
But wait . . . mortality decided to give me a call.
Things were different now. There was something so terribly different between me and the person I was.
Can you see me?
I’m not as sickly anymore.
My long hair is cut short.
I am cleaned up.
I no longer spoke as if I was on some kind of permanent high.
There I was, viewing my old self through the eyes of my new self.
I could see the sickness in my scenarios.
I realized and recognized how deep my secrets were and to be honest, I saw how sad and deadly my choices had been.
I never knew any better.
I never knew that this was really me.
But it was.
Perhaps this was the first time I recognized the severity of my problem. Maybe, if I’m being honest, this was the first time I realized how desperate I was.
All of this came to me as a recollection.
I thought about my home visit . . .
I went from being a problem at the farm to being quiet as a child who just received a spanking.
And in some ways: I did.
I remember sitting in the upstairs of the main house at the farm. I was looking through the window and out at the scenery.
I was thinking about the things I had just seen, like my old bedroom; but more, I was thinking about my Old Man.
He was weak. That was the biggest bitch of them all.
My Old Man was never weak. At least, not to me.
No, he was my hero.
We might not have spoken to each other much. We might not have gotten along very well, but this was because I was very sick. I was emotionally and mentally unwell. Not to mention the habit and the toxins in my bloodstream or how these remove your ability to think clearly.
I had stirs of great depression and a stream of anxiety that was unthinkable; not to mention the troubles that come with tragic anticipations and paranoid fears of my psychosis.
I had all of this yet deep down, I wished I could just be normal.
I wished that there was no such thing as insecurity.
But there is . . .
Because insecurity exists, for the first time, I was able to recognize how my insecure thinking and belief system robbed me of my youth.
I was able to see how this interfered with my connection to my Father. We were at odds all the time. There was a level of tension and, here it is, I finally get a moment where I’m out of trouble. I finally reached a place where The Old Man and I are in good with each other. I finally heard the words I’m proud of you and then lo and fucking behold, life decides to show up and The Old Man has a heat attack.
What the hell kind of justice is this?
How is this fair?
Is this punishment for the things I had done and the people I had hurt?
Was this the way I had to repay for all the things I’d stolen or robbed?
Is this part of the consequences for the purse snatching and breaking and entering into homes and cars?
Or, is this my payment for the planet’s revenge against me for being who I was?
Why is this happening to me?
This was the question.
Why is life always happening to me?
I remember this as a Sunday morning after returning from my home visit.
I saw what I had done.
I recognized the depths of my sins and in the incredible consumption of what just happened, I knew what was coming my way. I just didn’t know when this was going to happen..
The world was about to take The Old Man away.
Oh, . . .
Did I ever tell you what The Old Man said when he saw me the day I walked into his room at the hospital?
He said, “You look good, kid.”
He told me, “Whatever you’re doing up there, just keep doing it.”
The Old Man never told me I looked good before,
And here it is, just weeks before he was about to pass away, he said he was proud of me.
Can you believe that?
He was proud of ME . . .
Suddenly, I wasn’t this sickly little teenage junkie with a habit.
I wasn’t a criminal. I wasn’t a bum or a burnout.
I wasn’t “emotionally disturbed.”
I wasn’t “learning disabled.”
No, I was my Father’s son again.
I suppose this is where my change began . .
God, I wish he was here to see what’s become of me.
Oh and by the way….
I had the chance to talk to a father about his son the other day.
I thought about what we went through together, I thought about when life was between us.
I was on my side with my opinion and you were on yours.
And never the two could meet.
It’s not fair sometimes. But it is right for me to be grateful.
It’s right that I see things in their true perspective.
I might not have ever said this before, out loud, or even in my notes or diaries.
But I’m saying this now.
I’m sorry Pop.
I’m sorry for my side of what happened between us.
I know that all debts have been settled, but I needed you to know what’s in my heart.
I was too young to realize that Dads have feelings too
But I know that now.
Oh, and remember that time when you came in and I was too out of it that I couldn’t even lift my head off of the pillow?
Well, me too.
But that wasn’t me, Pop.
I hope you know that now.
PS- Let Mom know that I’m doing okay.
Tell her I will write to her soon.
I know how she worries when she doesn’t hear from me.
But not to worry . . .
your baby boy is doing just fine.