Saturday, September 15, 2007

Photo analysis.

About a month ago, I got a card in the mail from my stepsister* that had some low quality copied photos of my dad that she'd found in her stacks of old photos. I was very happy to get the pictures because, as someone who contributed half of my DNA and was around until I was 33 years old, I really don't have a great number of photos--or anything else, for that matter--to remind me of my dad. He HATED the camera, and physically winced when he got his picture taken. He was just one of those people...

So, anyway, the photos are not so great, and they're mostly late 70s photos of my dad with her mom (with whom he'd had the affair that had broken up my parent's marriage...but that's for another time). But there's this one of the two of us, taken on my 8th birthday:

There are so many things about this photo that upset me.

(You can't see it, but...) My birthday cake is sitting on the dinette right in front of us. It has 8 candles on it that haven't been lit yet. Clearly, someone baked it for me, because it's on a foil covered piece of cardboard. I'm gonna guess it was my dad's girlfriend. Anyway, I can't tell if this photo is taken first thing in the morning or later in the evening. I'm in my Holly Hobby night shirt, and my dad's clearly drunk, and really and hating life, so it could be either.

I AM loving the "Eye of God" yarn thing hanging in the background. Note to any scene designers of movies set in the South in the late 70s: You should TOTALLY have at least one of these ugly yarn fuckers hanging in a room where a pivotal scene happens. You're welcome. I only expect a mention in the credits.

My dad had the Eye of God in this photo, along with one in the "living area" (which was basically just the wall opposite of this wall), and another one above his bed. I should probably also mention that this was his post-divorce apartment, located in one of the only "singles-only" complexes in Longview at the time. It was on the south side of town, which was pretty damn sketchy. But that apparently didn't concern him much when it came to my leaving for hours at a time to ride my bicycle. Alone.

His apartment was right by the complex pool, which I thought was cool. The post-divorce apartment that Mom and I were living in at the time was quite a hike from the pool. But at least there, I had my own room. At Daddy's I had to sleep in his king-sized bed and endure his epic, whisky-induced snoring. Ugh.

Anyhoo, every other weekend, when I went to visit Daddy, the complex was full of other "weekend kids." We used to play in the pool, comparing notes while our parents got hammered with one another while listening to The Eagles, Willie Nelson, and Linda Ronstadt : "Yeah, I only come ever other weekend, but next month I have to come three weekends because my mom's having surgery." "My mommy's new boyfriend smells like pickles and hugs me way too hard. Hey! Watch me do a cannonball!" You know, uplifting shit that children under ten SHOULD be talking about.

Y'all, it sucked in 1,000 different ways.

I'm not sure if you can tell from the body language in the photo above, but we're not all that comfortable with each other. I'm 8 and a girl. He's 35, and experiencing being a single male for the first time since he was 21. And it's 1979--which means it's post-pill and pre-AIDS. And he owns a "make your own cigarettes" machine he bought off T.V. that he uses to create primo joints to smoke, and a "make your own glasses" gadget he uses to make drinkware out of old liquor and beer bottles. All I ever eat as his apartment are Pop-Tarts and ramen noodles.

This one photo brings all of this back to me. It came to me in the mail, and has been in my head ever since.

I am still so mad at him. And I also miss him so much, it's flat out crazy.

*My step-sister is 20 years older than I am and is someone I never lived with, so I don't relate with her too much. And, since my dad's death, I connect with her even less. So it's really cool that she sent these to me. But I also can't help but wonder why she didn't just send me the ORIGINALS of MY DEAD FATHER. Fuck. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.


Jaye Joseph said...

I wish I was cool enough to know what to say here, but I'm not. So there. And I love you. And post this comment or not. You won't offend me either way.

Nap Queen said...

First of all, I'm sorry. That sounds sucky in so many ways, and I feel so sad for kids who had to deal with stuff that they should never have to deal with. Soooo not fair. The good news is that the little I know about you from this blog is pretty freakin' awesome, so you should be really proud of yourself. You seem strong, confident, smart and beautiful.

Second, and much less important, I think we had the exact wall hanging, and I KNOW we had the same light fixture in avocado green.