Family

In July I made the decision to take a job in New York. By the middle of August, I was living here. I am still not fully unpacked.

I got up early this morning for reasons surpassing my limited capacity to think at 6AM. For a while I bumbled around on the Internet, feeling listless. I have a party tonight at 7PM my time that I am going to Skype into – hopefully I’ll get to see some people and chat with them, but I probably won’t stay on too long because being on the phone at a party is a drag, y’know? But we’ll see.

I got a box unpacked this morning, and started working on a second when I pulled out a long, yellow envelope. It’s skinny, with some writing on the front that is smudged with time.

The first, and only birthday card I got from my father. He passed away shortly after sending me the card from small-cell carcinoma. I don’t think I ever wrote about my father here; I barely knew him, and I know I wasn’t really running this blog back when he died. That feels like a lifetime ago, although it has only been four years. I didn’t know how to handle what I was feeling at the time when he died, so I made a video tribute to him, because I was learning how to make videos at the time, and then moved on.

Or tried to. I didn’t have a relationship with him. Not really. My sister was the one who wanted to know him, so his death wasn’t a huge loss in my life. But there is an absence; knowing that someone is out there, even if you want nothing to do with them, is wildly different than knowing you don’t have a chance to ever talk to someone again. I still think about him every once in a while, such as when I see this card from him.

I don’t keep the card on display. (I don’t keep any cards on display) but I do like having them. I wish I’d gotten into the habit of keeping cards when my grandmother was alive; it’d be nice to have something she wrote to me. But we only really know we want something when it’s gone.

I don’t know if I wanted a relationship with my father. I know for the longest of time I didn’t. I was angry, as a kid, for his absence. Mainly because it made me feel different than the other kids I knew. Even the divorced kids knew who their father was, or had a father figure in their life. I got second-hand dad experience from Mr. Opie, my childhood best friend’s dad, and Mike, my mother’s boyfriend that we rarely saw because they were both truckers.

I can safely assume that the person he was toward the end of his life was not the same person he was years before. Everything changes when you find out you’re going to die. There’s no getting around it. Some people react by pushing everyone away and trying to go it alone. Others draw comfort from their family, trying to cling to them as much as possible. I sometimes think about how I will react, when time comes for me to face death directly. Will I want to push people away, or will I gather my friends and family close to me as I slip free from life?

I feel the view of my father that I got from our brief e-mails and this card is incomplete at best. Downright dishonest at worst. But it is the image of him that I have, and the only one I’ve ever known. So I try not to dwell on who he might have been prior to meeting him.

My sister spent some time reaching out to the rest of the family that he was connected with. I have a half-brother out there somewhere, and an aunt with family all her own. I have no desire to meet these people. Much as I had no desire to meet my father.

Moving to New York has been rough for me, as I find it very difficult to go out and meet people. I’m planning to take some college courses at some point, (since I work for a University) and I think that will help. But the earliest I can do that is January. I find myself regularly missing friends and family, and wondering if I should rethink my decision in moving to New York.

It would be easy to go back to Missouri, fall into a rut, and live out the rest of my life. It would be a bit boring, but it would be familiar and comfortable. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss knowing what there was to do, and who I could do it with. I miss, to an extent, the routine that I had. This new routine is boring, and I do not like it at all.

But then, I think about my friends and family back in Missouri, and they are all making significant life changes. Leif and Meegan got married, and are expecting a baby boy. Steve and Kally are getting married next Spring. Sandra and Luke are raising two of their own kids, and one that isn’t. Eric is going to school and has a job at a Credit union. Jesse and Eric are trying to grow their lives together.

Maybe now was the right time to branch out and try something new. Moving back to Missouri might be an option in the spring, but it would be a temporary stop. I couldn’t live there for more than a year or two, probably, before I needed to move elsewhere. I like the idea of California; somewhere that the Tech industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Working for a startup might be nice for a while.

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