Monday, November 13, 2006

hammering home

I wrote this at the beginning of July, I just never had the guts to post it for some strange reason.

Over and over again I must have the importance, nay, the dire necessity of taking my twin girls Lyli and Scarleht out into the world hammered home. Having grown up almost entirely removed from the torrent of society before becoming a dynamic party hub in college I have reverted to my introspective hermetic self since I caught the papa bug, even more so since moving to a rural area outside Olympia, even more so having recently separated from my baby mama. I usually spend my half the week shacked up with my girls and leave the socializing time to Stephanie as it seems to be more important to her and something she enjoys doing despite the stresses of going anywhere with twins. At the farmhouse we invest our time gardening, going for walks up and down the long driveway and the abandoned logging roads, chucking rocks into Puget Sound, reading and learning at a breakneck pace.

Every few weeks I realize that I have not taken my girls out for a spell and have to kick myself and do it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being in public with them, although there is that awkward unwanted feeling imposed on papas by our culture, I suppose it is my way of giving them what I got and what I value so much now in hindsight: a sheltered but open view of the natural world, a place to do things with one’s hands, a break (at least for the beginning) from the endemic hustle and bustle and frantic pace of life these days, a slow yardstick with which to measure the rest of life. So, being an outsider from the get-go, not to mention attending the radical anarchist hippy college in the woods, tuned me in to those frequencies and I feel them everywhere, from the playground to the Food Co-Op to the freeway. Many of the encounters I have with other mothers and fathers are valuable and lift my spirits but the overall vibe I get from society at large frightens me. I suppose we are indeed rarely spotted beasts in this patriarchal nine to five piggy bank landscape the majority of fathers are locked into.

Almost immediately after becoming a father I felt ostracized (I’m going to assume I’m not alone on this one) to a certain degree from my group of friends. This may well be due to the simple change in levels of responsibility, a forced art of the long view, new time restrictions brought on my parenthood, and/or economic limitations. Work ethics change, social schedules change, I know for me at least I pretty much had time to hang out with anyone who had time to hang out with me, observe my new lifestyle, lend a hand. It was hard as well, not having my masculinity affirmed in the ways I had grown accustomed to and having to learn new ways to feel like a man. I think that’s what I miss most from my male friends, is that support one feels when a common bond is present. Jesus, that’s a whole other essay. I’ll skip back to present day and leave the rants for elsewhere.

These past few weeks have been hard and strange, my partner having moved out and going from taking care of my girls almost all of the time to just half… now a creeping loneliness and stagnant static fills my free time. I almost have to make myself have fun or work or just sit and look at something, now that I sometimes have time to look around. At the bookstore I walk around like a zombie shelving books, smoking cigarettes and talking off and on with Rob. I hate it when reading becomes a chore or a self-help necessity. It’s like coming down from a hard party or a conference that you’ve just slaved away at nonstop for months. Everything else by comparison seems dull and unproductive, lacking that luster which accompanies the always-busy and the polaroid of the happy family. Some of it I’m sure is due to the sensations lost and gained by losing or changing our family structure, or pressing pause (or is it guillotine?) on a relationship or whatever it is confused parents do when they think they don’t need or want each other, whatever it is we think we are doing right now.

Are we gaining something from this time apart? Are we rediscovering our true selves or undergoing radical new changes that have been shelved for too long? We question our every decision, past, present and future, hoping to unearth some revelation that will explain the rocky roads. Is this a futile move? Perhaps, but the lessons learned along the way are still lessons, even if you walk the road alone. Have faith that life goes on, that there is time to invest in oneself as well as those one loves. Have faith that your children themselves are the answers you seek, the way they look at you and learn from you and love you unconditionally. These are some of the mantras I mutter to myself between breaths or beers, trying to dispel or embrace this mix of hollow heartache, foreign freedoms and fresh horizons.

It is only by experiencing and taking part in the spaces and places around us that we may come to learn what sort of world we really want to live in. Armed with these new tools we actively fashion our future.


Dr. Gabbo said...

Always reading. Check ur Gmail for a link. I only read the first page, so I don't know good or shitty it is.

rfl said...

nice to lurk here again, reading disconnectedly in touch with your life.