Hidden inside the box, life was much easier.
In ’97-’98 I was living with my father, but I think I began to notice those things that struck me as odd before moving in. The visits to his dumpy duplex in the middle of a very run-down part of the city always seemed to put me in a peculiar state. Pulling up to the grey and dusty place had a way of making me feel isolated. Knowing when I would approach the open door and after knocking, he would tell me to come in and turn his radio on.
I would sit across from the man at the kitchen table and try my best to have a relationship with him. The hiatus was long and complicated before we began to associate once again. I was so exhausted, trying to live with mother and her husband. I wasn’t crazy about his daughter living in the room next to mine. So, I’d go to dad’s place to blow some smoke and have a beer.
This man–dad–was the enemy of my childhood. I don’t know why I was there, really. It was like I was desperately trying to forgive him while at the same time selfishly using him to get away from the dysfunction at home; an unhinged and tangled mess, much like the one mommy and daddy once had. The reason why I was away from him for so long was because of a lie, a disgusting and needless lie, told in a courtroom while they were fighting over custody of me. I went with mom, even though he said what he said about her that day. Dad used to beat my mother in front of me during those wonderful developmental years of childhood. She had to get away, but oddly she stayed with him off and on for thirteen years after the divorce. That was nice–packing and unpacking, in and out, again and again. Seeing the abuse continue all of those years while their dysfunction kept them bonded. I sat before the same man who kept me terrified of the world and hidden inside of a box, just like his.
Dad just wanted to be left alone, but he let me move in. Maybe he did have a heart and wanted me to get away in order for me to have new opportunities? He did aid in me getting a good stable job that ultimately instilled the work ethic I still carry. Maybe he just wanted a friend? I never knew how to handle him, and it is understandable in hindsight. Years have taught me well. The residence was short, as I then moved in with a woman and spent many miserable years replaying the dysfunctional lessons of my youth.
There was a window he used to sit near in the kitchen. The table was positioned along the wall just under the window. It was cracked during the day, all year long, in order for the smoke to leave. It was a reminder for me when I’d arrive–when seeing the framed glass raised only a few inches, I knew what was going on inside. My memory all of these years later of that raised window has different meaning. No longer does it show that he was home and awake, writing poetry, chain smoking and puffing his weed, rocking back and forth with his brain going a million miles an hour. None of that. Now the window shows just how much of the world he was able to deal with…
Those things I learned in all of those years of watching the neurotic behaviors and living out my own within a similar box have brought me to a pretty good place. I suppose when some get tired of suffering, the mind can somehow restructure itself into an exquisite masterpiece. One in which he or she can be comfortable with. It is unfortunate when the outside is only obtainable through the slightly raised window of one’s own space of comfort.
I’m grateful for a house with many open windows. I’m grateful for all of those individuals who helped me get to this place. I’m also thankful for the much less destructive craziness I now own.