Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life and death

I'm thinking about quitting my job.  

It's a helluva thing, because in many regards, my job is going better than ever.
I'm getting a huge raise, a big promotion, and possibly an office with a window.
No one saw this coming.  Many people feel that I'll have thrown it all away.  Yeah, they might be right.
Had I just thought about things a bit more, maybe I'd have ended up even better off at
that job.  One more tier.  One more pay grade.  One more payday.

My family might secretly believe, though, that its all just the same self destructive bend that 
started with quitting the church.  Quitting your job ultimately is just a symptom of your ultimately 
quitting the church.  And it's hard because no matter my protest, they will utlimately feel so justified

So let me just state for the record, that the reason I would quit my job has nothing to do with
the church.  Two years ago, my ex girlfriend, after cheating on me, got pregnant with the guy she cheated
on.  Now the guy she cheated with, he didn't want a baby and urged her to get an abortion.

But I knew my ex well enough to know she'd always wanted a kid.  We'd tried several times
ourselves.  I might be infertile or something doesn't jive, because out of three pregnancies,
three ended up in a miscarriage.  So I told her, don't get an abortion just because he tells you so.
Have the kid if you really want to have a kid.  

Still he tried to pressure her. For some reason, at this moment in time, even with my liberal, pro choice bend,
I somehow just wanted this pregnancy to happen.  It makes no sense at all, but I kept urging her
to not give in to this guy.  Don't get an abortion.  It was mighty high minded of me, I thought,
to stand up for her right to choose, even when ultimately that meant choosing against the abortion.  
But let's not kid ourselves.  I was in it a little deeper than that.  For whatever stupid reason,
I wanted that pregnancy to result in a baby.  I was associating a fetus with a baby.  I was
pushing for it, against all rationality, against my own atheism, I was suddenly a believer in some kind of
of destiny.

And then came the baby.  The guy she'd cheated with was long gone.  I was there, because this was after all
what I'd pushed for.  Our relationship was kaput but I was in for support.  I was willing to
be this baby's father, because really, in the long run, that was all this was really about.  
I wanted to be a daddy.  But there in the delivery room, I suddenly felt far far away from this baby.
It wasn't mine!  It was just some stranger's baby.  What the hell was I doing here?  I felt
so detached all of a sudden.

Damn, why did I throw in for this birth?  Why did I influence this birth to happen, against three 
scheduled abortions, why did I fight for this moment?  This is dumb.  
But then the baby's pulse went down.  Way way down.  There was danger now.  And for some reason, it was 
this danger to this baby's life, now at the very moment of his birth, that drew me back in

Rushed into the emergency delivery room for a C section.  And in about two minutes flat, out plops this
messy piece of life, this slimy, warp headed baby, this brown skinned beauty.  And the doctor hands him to me.
What the fuck was that?  Why did the doctor hand this baby to me?  I look down at this baby.
He isn't crying.  He isn't particularily distressed, from what I can tell. He's just looking up at me.
Who the hell is that guy?

You are going to have a great life, I say.  
Then I keep repeating this, for whatever reason, I keep feeling compelled to say this.
 It becomes my promise to him.  What right do I have, to promise something like greatness to a baby life.
But I do it, and I do it with a certain confidence.  His life's greatness becomes something of my own.

That night, I have the weirdest dream.  I dreamt of Brenden, new Brenden, sitting in his little tray.
He's kicking his arms in my dream far more freely than his swaddling in real life would ever allow.  But there he
is, pushing out with all his might.  And then his little baby voice sings something true and pure.
Just one little word.  "Wow".

I wake up amazed.  How do you really have that dream for real?  How is that little baby, saying
wow in your dream, wow what a ride, wow I'm here, wow this is life, wow who's that ?  who who's that one, this one, so
many big faces towering over me?  How is the baby in that dream not your own son?

So I made him my son.  I swaddled him in mummy wraps.  I held him close, and when he let out a wail when 
I had put him down, I rushed to him, and took him up again, letting him know that
I was wrapped around his finger forever.

It was the best year of my life, raising that boy as my own.

But then, the father, the biological one, came back.  I told him he was welcome, he should be in his son's
life.  I arranged appointments, visitation.

My ex and I were raising a baby.  But she began longing for her the biological family, to be
the only family.  

In six months, she moved out with my son to be with a biological dad.  
And now I know a numbness in my being, a pain that cannot be encompassed, a pain that cannot be abbreviated, cannot
be short cut.  I am stuck with this pain for as long as it will last.

If it is a punishment from God he could not have done better.  And the reason this man, who when he wanted back into Brenden's life I welcomed, when he needed help and a place to live I helped him with that too...what does he say is the best reason for cutting me off, for not letting me ever seen Brenden again?
I'm an infidel.  Ha.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Apricot Wars, and stranger things

So this happened when I was a young whelp in Utah, oh thirty years ago.

We had this huge abandoned house (never completed construction) right across the street.  It's backyard was basically an apricot orchard.  Well, nobody was living there, and so all of those apricots would jut rot and fall to the ground.  And so, every summer, the neighborhood kids would gather in that orchard and find interesting ways to throw those apricots and one another.  Some of these involved the older kids using sling shots to really inflict a sting on your bottom.  But I can attest that no one, not one time, was ever seriously hurt in our assaults.

One day, during a particularily long battle, a policeman came and took down our names.  First, I do not know what inspires a neighbor to summon the police in this matter.  "Hmmm, Betty, there's some apricots being thrown around."

"Better call the cops, Earl."

I mean, they might have considered at least lodging a complaint by hollering over their fence first.  (Hmm, come to think of it, I guess that was more likely to induce a barrage of apricots coming their way than any form of peaceable cooperation.  Nah, that wasn't really an option.)  But I'm still not sure what harm we were inflicting that demanded a police action.  But oh well, such is the way of Utah, that apricot wars were something that required immediate containment by the law..

So the cop took down our names and warned us to give up the apricot life, it was no good.  Sure it was glamorous on the face, but he'd seen one too many teenagers ruin their life with this fruit -- no I digress.  He just took our names down, no lectures on the peril of apricots involved.  I was terrified of what it meant to have my name taken down on a notepad by a cop.  I was only nine or ten, so this was a pretty scary moment.  But that was it.  He drove off, and as far as I know, my criminal record of apricot violence has never been made public--until now.

So me and my family, we'd laugh and reminisce about that day for many Thanksgivings to come.  But then one year, my brother remembered it a little bit differently.

"You remember Kevin!  We all were gathered around the police car except for you, you were still hiding up above in the trees.  And you yelled out 'Bombs Away!' and let one fly, and sploosh, all over the cop car's window.  And then you came running out and boy did your jaw drop.  I'll never forget that look on your face!"

Actually, this did up the humor of this story quite a bit, but I knew straightaway it never happened that way. But not a soul ventured to disagree, and sure enough, for about five more years now the story had this as its primary punchline.  But then one day my other brother objected.  He didn't say it wasn't true, but he just said that it wasn't Kevin that ever threw the apricot at the cop car, but that it was him.

For awhile, the family resisted this interpretation.  The reason being is that my brother is definitely the straight man to my Groucho Marx, if you get my meaning.  I'm the funny foolhardy one.  He's the straight arrow.  So it kind of soured the gag  a bit ,so everyone said "No no, it was definitely Kevin."  Even I kind of felt territorial about it at first...after all, it's the best role in the Apricot War movie, no hands down.   But then I finally decided, hell, since it's all a big lie anyway...and I said that yeah, it was definitely my brother who was the guy shucking the apricot blindly into a cop car.  Why not?  Give Kenny his due.  I've had my hands dirty with this apricot goo long enough.  And if you've ever indulged in an apricot war yourself, you know what I'm talking about--damn those really rotten ones are just a mess.

Anyway, it's interesting to reflect on, the invention of a memory and the consequent reinvention.  In the story, the cop just looks at his apricot besotten window and tears up the notebook paper with our names on it, shaking his head and driving off wihtout a word.

It is a better story that way.  An urban myth in the making.  But it sure makes me wonder about anything that gets believed, if a group of five witnesses will go along with a total fabrication.  I have never tested the waters with my family to see if I'm the only one who knows it's all a bit of family fiction, but I highly suspect that I'd be shouted down.  It's too revered a story now to bring down.

Hmmm, where else can this kind of thing apply to in my life?  Just can't think of any applications where this might have some correlation, do you?

Aw well, those apricot wars sure were a blast, until you took one in the face.  I used to be an apricot warrior, till I took a pit in the eye.  (Mild Sky rim reference for you uber nerds)