I have been driving around listening to the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack, generally just listening to track one, and then hitting replay. Normally I am a happy and content person, but today was not a normal day, one filled with a slight sense of melancholy. But my problems are the problems of all people at all times, so I can't report they revolve around anything more than just being in a funk. Though perhaps it's because my mother just got back from visiting her father's grave. As I have essayed previous, he's a man she never knew or met. He died in World War II and left her a war orphan. And she returned home today to her Jack Russell Terrier and otherwise empty house. My father lives in a veteran's home and has for the last couple of years due to the multiple minor strokes he had. And I now no longer live anywhere close to my mom. For much of my adult life, I've had a rough time with my mother, she (like a lot of single children) has some entitlement issues, though my brother has had it worse with her. But over the last two years or so, with my father living as he does, I feel much closer to my mother, and I feel for her. She was worried when she began dating again that my bro and I would be weirded out as she hasn't divorced my father (at this point it would simply be rude), but I've always been supportive, though she's had a run of bad luck with that. More than anything she never wanted to end up alone like her own mother (who spent her elder years living alone in a house in San Diego until she was too old to be left alone and then shipped up to Portland to live in a nursing facility until she died), but that is what fate has provided her, for now. I hope things improve, and I know she has had a rough but powerful week dealing with the memory of her father. Doing something she had to do, but something that couldn't close any wounds.
Like my mom, most of my adult friends have their father issues. Some have dead fathers, others with absentees or fuck ups. I can't think of too many male friends who have talked about their fathers and don't have some onus revolving around their paternal relationships. My entire generation grew up under the (Phil) specter (hair) of divorce, though admittedly, none had it as bad as my neighbors growing up. Their parents divorced around 1984-ish, and the father moved out to Northwest Portland. Being friends I would sometimes sleep over during their weekends with their father, and do some skateboarding around the NW area (I was never a very good skater, sadly, though my brother became a master and still skates). About four years later their father developed cancer, even though he was a jogger, never a smoker, and in good shape. We saw him sporadically as he went through chemo because they thought it was cancer, and maybe it was. If I recall correctly he died in 1988 or 1989, it was before we moved. Still friends with the neighbors (though our friendship, as a later move proved, had more to do with proximity than anything else), my family went to the funeral.
At the time gay was a word used to describe something lame, faggot another word to which to describe someone doing something lame. They were contextless beyond their power to shock. Conceptually, I had no real awareness of homosexuality as more than just something described and a vague awareness of the beginnings of AIDS... hell at that point I don't even think I knew what lesbianism was, though I knew our next door neighbors were two women who lived together, and neither looked like they were husband hunters. I knew something was up with them, but I couldn't put my finger on it. But never had alarm bells rang more clearly than at that funeral. To see so many men. Men with mustaches. Men who didn't come off as 100% manly. Seeing so many of them crying over my friend's father's grave, I knew something was up. The funeral had no real effect on me, I had no emotional attachment to their dad, though he had a pinball game in his basement and I thought that was pretty cool. At the time, I felt sort of bad about being more attuned to the oddness of the event than any sense of grief, but by the time I was fourteen or fifteen (or shit, maybe even the evening of) I put the pieces together. Like a lot of things from childhood, you might not have the name of it, but you know what it is.
I once wrote a line about how sometimes you write things to bury them, and I probably stole that idea from Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood For Love, but unfortunately sometimes I write to purge my emotional state of being, whether that mood is goofy or this. At least you get the free prize with every blog reading. That prize: Cold Sores.