Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I've just been shaken awake at four AM by a dream about my father. He and I aren't exactly estranged, but we've been separated by his hearing problem and the fact that I haven't been home to see my family on the East Coast in far, far too long. He can't hear me to talk on the phone, so we've become more distant than I ever wanted.
Add to this my recent relapse into some of the anxiety issues I "enjoyed" a few years ago. Sleep is difficult, I have no real idea where my future lies, and blah blah blah.
Tonight, as I slept, forces aligned to teach me a little about my father. In my dream, I realized that the disarray of my life now, coupled with key little details of recent weeks (sleeping with the TV on, sleeping on the sofa, etc.) exactly mirror my father's life for decades. In the dream, I was visiting my folks, and there was a surprise late season snowfall in the middle of the night. I walked out onto the porch of their old house and took in the beauty of the scenery- an idealized, snowglobe version of their actual neighborhood. I scooped up a palmful of winter slush, surprised to find it cool in my hand, but not exactly cold.
The dream flashed forward, and my father was sleeping in the passenger's seat of his old van. I tried to get him to come into the house and sleep in his bed, but he wouldn't answer me. I sat in the driver's seat and drove the car into the house, parking it in the kitchen. I walked to the passenger's side and woke him gently, and he walked into the living room. He laid down on the sofa, and without a word went back to sleep.
I woke up feeling anguished and a little lost. I realized suddenly that my father and I share the same anxiety issues, and the same disappointments and the same frustrations. He drank every day after work, often coming home eight or nine hours after his shift was over. He avoided our home when I was a kid and a teenager, and thus, he has no fixed spot in my memory at all. He was always uncomfortable and restless, and he would describe this restlessness as "getting antsy", and once this feeling was upon him he'd leave the house and we wouldn't see him for hours. I don't think he's had a full eight hours sleep in his life.
His generation is not as likely to acknowledge these things, and definitely not as apt to seek out help for an emotional or psychiatric problem. He must have been miserable for a long, long time. I understand that only now. I can't believe it's taken me this long to see my father as a complete person, and not as a part time boogeyman, part time knucklehead.
I wish I was back there now to talk to him and just hang out a little. I've got to make that happen soon.