If you’re reading this, it’s hopefully because I decided it was time you know about it. But maybe you stumbled on this sooner than I was expecting. Regardless…hello Ari!
My plan was to send this to you when I felt the time was right and you are ready to read it. Maybe you need it. Maybe we both need it.
I picture you in your twenties reading this, maybe your teens. Right now you’re seven. (You would say “seven-and-a-half, Daddy!”)
I started this blog for one reason: There has always been a gnawing gap between the person I am inside (and on the page) and the person I am with the people I love. Almost every day of my life, I struggle to show you how much I love you (and like you) and often worry that I’m not doing it right or enough. Maybe it’s every parent’s curse that the love they feel for their child is inexpressible. Or maybe I just suck at platonic intimacy. Probably it’s both.
I want to share my feelings about you and our relationship as you grow. It’s my hope that if I fail to be there for you in the way that I always try to be, at the very least you’ll know what I was feeling on the inside, and that I tried hard all the time. If somehow I didn’t fail, if I don’t feel inaccessible or inadequate to you, and you find these paragraphs confusing, well then, this will only be a gift to you, and a nice remembrance.
Ari, I grew up with a father who was really fun when I was a kid, but grew emotionally distant and disengaged when I became a complicated adolescent. That hurt and confused me a lot. Because we were really different, I thought he had rejected who I grew up to be. It took me years to figure out that he cared deeply about me, and I found out by accident. I had just closed a production of my very first play which was produced at my college in 1996. My parents had some friends over and I was in the other room typing away at something. I overheard my mother describing the play to their friends. She got a few facts wrong and then my father interrupted to correct her. This was surprising enough, because my father didn’t say much after the show, and generally gives the impression that he’s not fully engaged in his life. Furthermore, no matter what it is, he usually lets his wife do the talking. (My mother has always been my father’s ambassador to the people outside their marriage.) So then my father continued to summarize the entire plot in great detail! He grew excited as he told the story and the pride in his voice was obvious and alien.
Being the kind of kid who mostly took care of himself and had grown accustomed to moving my life forward without much encouragement, it was the only confirmation I needed to make peace with my father’s distance. From then on, I knew that I held an important place in the inner life of my father, even if he never shared it.
I know I’m not my father. But my nightmare is that this blog will be as surprising to you as the detailed synopsis of my play was to me in 1996. So, I won’t let it happen. If it happens, it’s because I tried and failed, not because I checked out.
But enough about me…