Here’s my last week:
Posts Tagged ‘father’
I have no idea why I had to learn all the state capitals.
My father and I went to Chipotle today . He parked the car, handed me money and said, “Get me a pork burrito.”
“Oh, I thought you were going in,” I said.
“No, just get me a pork burrito.”
“You want the meal?” I asked.
“No, but get it with the spicy sauce,” he said.
“So no guacamole. No meal, but you want the mild sauce.”
“No, spicy sauce.”
“Right, no spicy sauce, got it. You want the burrito or the salad?”
“Wait, yes, spicy sauce, and the wrapped up burrito.”
“The meal? I don’t understand,” I said, concentrating hard with an expression like I was just told that 2+2 equals a sack of potatoes.
Then he grabbed the money, slammed the door behind him and went in himself. I fought back a smile.
My brother has a red ax in a case over his bed that says, “IN CASE OF ZOMBIES, BREAK GLASS.”
When the boy would have a nightmare, his father would wake just before his hand reached the doorknob. The boy would leave his brother sleeping soundly in their shared room, make his way up the stairs, stepping in the spots of the floor he knew not to creak, except for one, which he would hit every time, an alarm of sorts. He would arrive at the door and just as his arm would extend, he would hear a ruffling of the sheets, his father sitting up.
He never knew where his father had learned this, whether it be a need to protect after his mother’s hearing loss, or perhaps something left over from his time at the monastery, that when in bed with a woman, sleep cautiously.
Some people wake up swinging. Not his father though, not in the middle of the night, at least not for him. After he had reached the refuge of his parents’ bed, he would watch as both would fall quickly back to sleep. Throughout the night, he would have the urge to nudge his father, not to wake him, but just to keep him sleeping lightly, in case the zombies congregating below ever figured out how to climb stairs.
But his father never needed the nudge. He knew he woke to his nightmares, or his brother sneaking his way into the kitchen, climbing the freezer shelves of the side-by-side to steal the ice cream sandwiches stored up top.
Later on, he knew his father woke to his brother skateboarding down the street, graffiti cans tucked into cargo pockets, or to his high school girlfriends’ desperate three a.m. phone calls.
He wondered why there was movement in the house. He went to the kitchen to find his father suiting up for the cold weather, 3:30 a.m. glowing from the digital oven clock, and all the family dogs excitedly, but patiently waiting at his father’s feet, looking to him.
His father asked if he’d like to join him.
Molly, the mother of the other two dogs, was found in a forest preserve, years before, during a camping trip of the boy’s uncle. No one knows how long she survived on her own, but just that she did, and after his uncle gave her to his grandmother, she started gaining weight. Healthy, his grandmother thought. And then she gained more weight and more and in one particular area. The black lab who grew up hunting prey was now a domesticated, bowl-fed, city dog, mother of 10 mutt babies, not one resembling a second.
Back in the forest, she was in her element. Her eyes quickly adjusted to the pitch black ahead of them. The boy could scarcely see his own hand. Molly’s daughters happily stayed heeling by the father’s side as Molly ruffled the bushes all around them. At one point, the ruffling stopped, the night clearer as the boy’s pupils grew. Molly fell quiet and all followed suit. Quickly she dashed off the trail and into the forest, her daughters excitedly nipping at her side. All three disappeared.
The father and the boy had been quiet. The father broke the silence to tell his son to sit. The father told his son of how he likes to come out at the night’s darkest hour, that at first, everything is clouded in blackness, and as he walks further into it, everything opens to clarity, slowly at first, and then more rapidly. As they sat, what once was nothingness now became the texture of tree-bark, the dampness of morning leaves, the stillness of a frightened squirrel.
As they assimilated themselves into the quiet around us, things started moving. A chipmunk, at first, dashing through the boy’s eye line, eventually a possum lumbering his way through last year’s fallen foliage, and finally a deer, gracefully leaping yards away, undisturbed by their presence. It was then that the father showed him that the darkness, the unknown, the chilling quiet that surrounds him, is the actuality of life, and that simply sitting brings him to appreciate the purity and resoluteness of each passing moment.
“Find comfort in it,” he said.
The dogs came back. Molly, defeated at her loss of prey, and her daughters gleefully jumping beside her, thinking that this new game, “the hunt,” was even more fun than the classic, “fetch.” Molly had chased the rabbit, it is just that her daughters had instead chased her, leaping on and into her as she pursued the now escaped meal. Though they enjoyed it, they didn’t have a complete understanding of the game. They came to the father’s side to tell him about their adventure and if a dog is capable of a dirty look, Molly was giving it.
As dawn approached and the sky opened and night no longer sombered each step, they turned back down the path toward the cottage. The crunching of the leaves seemed an unwelcome companion on this walk and so the boy imagined him and his father to be Indians, sneaking through the forest, forced to quiet as if not to alert their sleeping enemies. They must step quietly, and as such, as if to not make a single noise, the boy stepped carefully