“You look lost in thought. What are you thinking about?”
“The story I’ll never tell you.”
As soon as the words come out of my mouth I realize I didn’t intend to say it out loud or maybe I did and that is the real truth.
“A look and a shrug are exchanged and time passes.
Mom and I are sitting at the table talking about Dad and things he said or didn’t say.
“Your father didn’t talk about the past because it was done.”
I nod my head in partial agreement because it is mostly true. Dad would talk about the past but there was an internal criteria it had to pass to be discussed and if it didn’t nothing you said could change it.
I understand it better now than ever and expect I have adopted some of it. You won’t hear about some things ever from me because there is no point.
There is no reason to relive some moments and few if any have any interest in really seeing me or letting themselves be seen.
Some say that sounds harsh and sad. I don’t see it as either. It is honest and real.
Letters To The People We Miss
On a flight from here to elsewhere I took off my noise cancelling headphones and turned off the movie so that I could travel back in time and talk to my seatmate.
She asked if I was traveling for business or pleasure and what I did for a living.
I told her I was a writer and that it was business.
“You don’t like flying, do you. You look nervous.”
“My son says it is easy to tell when I am happy and easy to tell when I am really angry but sometimes hard to discern what is in between.”
“He says I get very quiet and that I can say nothing for extended periods. He says it can be frustrating because I also talk his ear off.”
She tells me she is going to see her grandkids and says it is great that I talk to my kids and then asks what I write.
“Letters to people I miss. Random thoughts. Stories and stuff. Lots of stuff.”
“Would I be familiar with anything you wrote?”
“Probably not. Produced quite a bit of marketing content and assorted odds and ends.”
“You ought to consider writing a book. Sounds like you have a story inside of you. Maybe you can do something on the Internet.”
I nod my head and tell her I have thought about it.
“You could join your mom, your sister and the dog for the ride back to LA.”
My eldest smiles and says he is happy to fly and reminds me about when he gets his time off from work.
“I have lived alone multiple times. That is how I learned to be at one with the silence. I have eaten every meal alone, spent holidays and birthdays by myself. It is always a shock when people return and I have to speak again.”
“Dad, you speak to people for a living. You make it sound like such a contradiction.”
“That is because it is. Been on multiple business trips during my career in which I took people out for a meal and felt more alone than sitting in a room by myself.”
He nods his head and tells me it is ok if I find a balance between talking his ear off and saying nothing.
“You know I said the same thing to your grandfather.”
He rolls his eyes at me and I laugh.
“I thought you said it is important to be your own man but here you are saying you are just like grandpa.”
“I did because it is and I am my own man in multiple ways. But you can’t get away without taking on parts and pieces of your parents. Ideally you pull nothing but the good, but sometimes you get the other stuff too.”
As he walks away I tell him I sincerely hope he only pulls my good qualities and then I smile.
He is on his way to being his own man. That kid has taken giant size steps that are so big he can’t see the progress he has made.
I am participating in a writing group and someone asks for us to share some secrets for writing.
“If you understand the quote above from the standpoint of loving someone that way and having lost the person you loved than you have a fountain of ideas and energy to pull from.
You need to know what it is to feel like you are floating and to feel despair. Know those and then learn how to show them and all that lies in between.
Use your words, hint at the story you’ll never tell and give the readers silence and space to fill in the gaps. That is how you take the reader on a journey they’ll remember.”