they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

smoke and mirrors

My dad doesn’t smoke pot anymore. He told my sister that it’s been six months since his last hit. He told her because she was always the one who was the most vocal about how his drug use effected her. She is also the only one who experimented in the realm of the illegal. When she was hardly a teenager. I’m talking fifth grade, sixth grade. Young. A time in my life when I didn’t even know what pot was and when there was a rumor circling the playground that “popping a cherry” meant bursting an air bubble that built up on top of a woman’s breast bone during intercourse. All the kids were going around showing the “correct” way to pop it. It was basically by using one finger curled around in the shape of an eagle’s talon. That’s what the older kids told us. And that’s what we believed. I didn’t know anyone my age who did drugs or smoked cigarettes or who abused alcohol. But I did know my dad. And I remember the smell that encircled him. It was a distinctive odor. But I wouldn’t realize its origin until I was in high school sitting on the soccer field with some friends in the summer. We were barefoot and free and some of them decided to smoke a joint. I remember thinking that I had smelled that somewhere before. And then, it all made sense. A little piece of me died then.

I started to remember it all. The orange package that the rolling papers came in. The bags of what looked to be oregano. His friends coming over and everyone sitting around in the living room sharing a cigarette. That’s what I thought it was. That’s what they told me. My mom and my dad. I also remember the scale that had a permanent place on my dad’s desk. He just recently confirmed my deepest suspicions. He dealt, too. Everyone did, he said.

He spent my childhood stoned or drunk or both. There were good moments. Times when he wasn’t high yet or when he hadn’t yet hit the bottle. Times when he was normal and fun and funny. But those times seemed to dwindle as I got older. I remember sitting in agony as my high school boyfriend and I greeted my dad after he came home from a night out. He was so gone and hungry. He made steak and we feasted. It was almost midnight. The next morning, he didn't remember talking to us the night before.

I used to sit and wait for the phone call. For the one that would say he didn’t make it. That he was driving home from his brother’s or from the bar or from work and that he didn’t have his seatbelt on again and that he just didn’t see the car pull out in front of him. For the call that said that he was caught with drugs in his vehicle and that he was in jail and would I bail him out. But those calls never came. At least they haven’t yet.

By the time I went to college, I started to expect him to be stoned all the time. I didn’t even look at his eyes anymore. And I didn’t tell him anything either. Nothing that I’d want to repeat again when he didn’t recall our conversation the next day. Soon, I just hated him. But in such a twisted way that took so much effort – as hate often does. It would have been easier to have just been indifferent.

I wrote him a letter the night before I got married. About how I wanted my daddy to walk me down the aisle as himself. Not as a strung-out version of the man he used to be. I told him I was afraid he’d get really drunk at my reception and that for me, for that one night, I wanted him sober and clean and okay.

I’m not sure my request was answered. I tried not to care. But I did care.

Amy said that he had developed a burning in his chest. In the morning, he’d wake up and cough. And his chest would burn and hurt and feel tight. And so he decided to stop smoking pot. Just until he started to feel better and his chest stopped aching. He said he realized that life felt okay without it. That was six months ago. I found out Sunday. I guess I should be happy.

I once knew a girl
In the years of my youth
With eyes like the summer
All beauty and truth
I n the morning I fled
Left a note and it read
Someday you will be loved.

I cannot pretend that I felt any regret
Cause each broken heart will eventually mend
As the blood runs red down the needle and thread
Someday you will be loved

You'll be loved
you'll be loved
Like you never have known
The memories of me
Will seem more like bad dreams
Just a series of blurs
Like I never occurred
Someday you will be loved

You may feel alone when you're falling asleep
And everytime tears roll down your cheeks
But I know your heart belongs to someone you've yet to meet
Someday you will be loved
You'll be loved you'll be loved
Like you never have known
The memories of me
Will seem more like bad dreams
Just a series of blurs
Like I never occurred
Someday you will be loved

-deathcab for cutie


  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger Kat said…

    Brutally honest and beautiful. I'm in awe of your openness. Thank you for sharing.

  • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    interesting. i'm sorry your dad was that way when you were growing up. i don't even have a problem with pot. i know a lot of people my parents' age who have always smoked it. but its one thing to smoke and another to neglect responsibilities in life, or just forget that there is life outside of weed, or to just smoke way too much. weed is there for us to enjoy... but like with everything else - too much is a bad thing.

    i think with my dad its always just been seeing the way he took care of himself, or didn't. i think i hated him a little when he had a stroke. it was his own fault. and he still doesn't take very good care of himself but now its impossible. he can't exercise because his body is too old and beat up.

    i guess sometimes the biggest life lessons we learn from our parents are by watching the ways they fuck up - and knowing how much that fucked us up too.

  • At 8:13 AM, Blogger Tara said…

    I admire your honesty and openess, as well. I had a similar childhood experience, but the drug of choice for my Dad was meth and there was also the off & on alcoholic binges of my Mom to deal with. Could I sit here and feel sorry for myself about the life I had...sure. But, I choose not to. I have chosen to learn from it and will try my hardest to be the best parent I can be. It won't be about how much stuff I can buy my kid for them to be happy, it will be about giving them a safe, caring, loving environment to grow up in.

    Again, I really admire you for posting this. Reading it made me feel more and more like you're a person I need to meet sometime in my life! Hopefully at Linz & Mark's wedding!!

  • At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    very unfortunate situation, however, airing laundry such as this is quite personal and shouldn't be discussed on a blog that everyone has access to. couldn't this backfire on your family? what if an employer or family friend not aware of the situation comes across this? potentially damaging post.....

  • At 4:30 PM, Blogger Pensive Girl said…

    dear anonymous-
    i've thought through the questions you raise countless times. i am a writer by trade, as well as by blog. i write what i know. when i'm not writing for work, i write non fiction, personal essays. the kind that dig deep and share struggles. the kind that are not easy to write. but the kind that i must write. because if just one person is encouraged by something i've written, then my writing has done its job.

    i plan to write a memoir one day. and this is the kind of stuff it will be filled with. this is my story. and i think it's one that needs to be told. not at the expense of anyone. but to help other people.

  • At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow. that's a very conceited thing to say or think - that story is one that needs to be told. what makes you so much better than anyone else, that you feel compelled to write a memoir, compelled to share at the expense of others...because really, by airing your laundry, you will be sharing other people's sad moments, things they may rather have kept private.

  • At 4:51 PM, Blogger Stephanie said…

    I kno what anonymous said, but I think that's bull. A lot of people are in so much pain, because they deal with issues like yours, and you're story needs 2 b told, so that the hurting can know that they're not alone. Because when you're in pain, you don't want to be alone.

  • At 4:53 PM, Blogger Stephanie said…

    4get the anonymous, and i mean, you're an amazing woman. and i'm proud 2 call you my cousin (even if it is just by marriage!) you and nick have helped me through a lot of troubles. Like with the whole guys thing that i was talking 2 u guys about...

  • At 4:10 AM, Blogger Jill Draper said…

    What a sad and brilliantly crystal essay. You got the goods, girl. Just found your blog again today, had switched templates and lost all my links, so what a treat to see your sister's wedding pictures and see the wee one in all his glory, too.

    Love you bunches, come see me.

    And, airing dirty laundry? That's called washing it thoroughly and putting it away where it doesn't stink. I get so riled at people who think they have the right to slam others for delving into life's darker corners. That takes courage.

    I don't do it. I blog for business. I'm spared, right?


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