I started writing this blog because I'm always telling stories about things I have have seen or experienced and people are always saying that I need to write a book. The thought of that is overwhelming, so I thought I would start a blog and then just put them all in order and call it a book one day. I think everybody has really interesting stories to tell. The best ones seem to be about something really great or something really awful. In my case, I generally like to write about something funny. This is not a funny story. My very first real blog was about my stepfather. I wrote it on father's day because I was thinking how lucky I was that he came into my life. This blog is about my biological father pictured above. What is sad about that photo is I have no idea if he is alive or dead. And to be honest, sadly at this point, I really don't care. The other sad thing about that photo is that my brother turned out to be just like my dad. My parents have a lifetime restraining order against him. Everybody has their sad stories to tell. Nobody's life has been perfect. I'm not writing this for attention or sympathy or anything like that. It's just simply a chapter in my book that is my life. I will be 40 this year and I'm not sad about it anymore...it's just my story.
My mom and dad dated in high school. According to my dad, he planned on breaking up with my mom the night my brother was conceived. My mom's side of the family is extremely religious. My grandfather's brother was a famous Arch Bishop on TV at that time. So, they decided to do "the right thing," and get married. I think my mom was about 19 when my brother was born. My dad was a musician. His music was his one and only love. He told me when I was 21 that we ruined his life and crushed his dreams of being a rock star. He was always on the road trying to "make it big." He left my mom home alone with my brother and all the bills. He would come home here and there and spend the small amount of money my mom made on booze. He was an alcoholic and drug addict. On one of his appearances at home, he knocked my mom up again. I like my brother was an accident. My mom hid her pregnancy from him because she knew he would force her to get an abortion or just throw her down the stairs like he had done in the past. He was physically abusive to all of us. I remember lying in bed and staring at the crack of light under my door. I would hear him stumbling drunk up the stairs bumping into walls and tripping over things. He would eventually fall and then get back up and look for somebody to blame. I would wait for that light under my door to dim. That would mean I would be to blame that night. I remember feeling torn. Part of me would rather take the beating than hear my brother or mom get one. I think this is where my shyness began. I remember trying to make myself as small as possible. I thought if he didn't see or hear me, then he wouldn't hurt me.
He is a horrible person but my brother and I thought he was so cool. We would take the tiny moments that he was nice to us and just cling to them. One of my favorite memories was sitting on his lap and driving the car around the back yard. It was a rare moment when I actually felt like he wanted to be there. He would make attempts here and there to make us happy which would usually end up bad. Like the time he hid Easter eggs wasted and forgot about the bee tree. We had a giant oak tree in the back yard that was basically a big bee hive. All the bees were inside it that night when he planted a pretty blue egg beneath it. Morning came and in my excitement, I forgot about it too. I ran directly to that tree and was attacked by a swarm of bees. I probably had a hundred stings. My entire body was swollen.
After years of abuse and affairs, my mom finally divorced him. He came around here and there until my mom remarried a few years later. After that we got a phone call on our birthdays and one on Christmas. Our birthdays were both in November, so he got all his calls out of the way in those 2 months. My mom got $200 per month in child support. I do remember going to visit him in Chicago. We would always go to the Space Place. It was an old warehouse in downtown Chicago where a bunch of bands would rehearse. There was a stage in the basement where they had shows all the time. My brother and I were those dirty annoying kids running around playing all their instruments and stealing whatever food we could find. My brother was usually drinking their beer. I did all the eating. That hasn't changed much over the years. We were always alone there. My dad was really good at ditching us. He would just tell us to wait in the car. One night, my brother and I got a blanket and fell asleep on the roof of the car. I remember waking up in the morning drenched from the dew that had fallen on us. Dad was nowhere to be found. It's crazy to think that I was 5 and my brother was 7 and we slept outside on a car in a pretty sketchy part of Chicago.
Eventually he moved to LA to pursue his rock and roll dreams. When I was 21, I was in a band and we were playing in LA and we had a day off there. I hadn't seen him in years, so I thought maybe we could hang out. So the bus rolled up to the venue and there he stood. After the show, we went back to his apartment.
It was horribly awkward. He was a complete stranger. He said to me, "I never wanted kids, but now that you are an adult, I'd like to get to know you." all I could think was...I don't think I want to know you. He followed that statement up with a little story...
"When you were a few weeks old, I was at home with you playing my guitar while your mom was at work. And you just kept crying and wouldn't stop. Finally I went over to your crib and put my hand over your mouth and nose. You turned fucking blue and I just had to take my hand away. I almost killed you."
Who does that let alone tells their kid that? My dad...that's who. In that moment, I decided that would be the last time I laid my eyes on him.
I wish he wouldn't have done "the right thing." I wish he would have dumped my mom as he had planned and pursued his dreams. A lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if he hadn't tried to make everybody else happy. We all suffered for his one unselfish act. I think about it all the time when I'm making my own decisions. Growing up, I did my best to make everybody else happy at the expense of my own happiness. I really was a great kid. I lived to make my parents proud. The worst thing I could imagine was disappointing them. Revealing I was gay seemed to erase everything good I had ever done for a lot of people. At that point, I decided I was going to do what made me happy because life is to short not to. People stay in bad marriages and jobs they hate and then push their kids to be in sports they hate and then get a job they hate. It's a vicious cycle. Most of it seems to be rooted in money and status and some fairy tale of a white picket fence. I'm writing my own fairy tale. I'm a trainer at a gym. I will never be rich, but I love going to work every day and I love my clients. I would rather live in a cardboard box with somebody I adore than a mansion with somebody I don't. Never underestimate the price of your happiness.