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Home-bound 1.2-UncleDad

I lost ordinary time with the first great divorce and dismemberment. Living in a tiny apartment in an iffy neighborhood then, I’d see my kids on weekends, where pent-up guilt would drive me to try to make each visit special, as if something extraordinary might lengthen our time together or deepen our connection to each other. Quite a lot of that time was spent in the car, ferrying between adventures, as if searching for someplace we might actually belong.

The second great divorce and dismemberment seemed worse, demonstrating my failed attempt to find a safe place for us to simply experience ordinary time together. I called myself Uncle Dad, a weekend visitor choking cheerfulness out of my broken heart. I made up truly terrible traveling tunes and spent too much time talking through my rear view mirror.

Returning now for a visit, they ask me what I’d like to do, carrying on the cue I taught them when I wasn’t aware of teaching anybody anything. We could spend much of the day in the car relating to the back of each other’s heads, looking for our presence in the rear view mirror.

I sometimes ache for ordinary times. I prefer abject boredom over almost any other experience. Hanging around with nothing particular to do, nothing lofty to accomplish, because I don’t get much of that kind of time with my kids—or anyone—anymore.

In trying to make special time, I might forfeit more valuable gifts. I have no where to go and nothing left to accomplish, perhaps, than to overcome the insistent urge to go some where and accomplish something. Boredom worked well in my childhood. Left to my own devices, I’d stumble upon the most remarkable ideas lurking in the dusty corners of ordinary times. I might have missed making the subtle distinction that the ground was always more significant than the figure emerging in the front of it. I was distracted by the bright and shiny, but better nourished by the frame.

I tire of aspiring. I weary of pursuit. My tail no more needs catching than I need to chase the damned thing. I might prefer to let the day slip by without a single attempt to seize it, idle hours utterly wasted and thereby rendered golden. I wonder now what I ever thought I’d find at the end of that rainbow. My daughter Heidi, when the dismemberment was at its worst and we could not spend any Saturdays sitting at home, asked how many more coffee shops we’d be visiting that day. We’d stopped by several, failing in each to find even a hint of the conversation we both knew could only emerge from ordinary times.

I’m still uncertain who I thought I was then. Part dad, for sure, but part an accommodating almost uncle-like character. Some days it was all I could do to drive, and driving was all I could imagine myself doing, too. I suppose I was searching for our future after the fall, after packing up and stacking in storage most of my ordinary time. No highway goes there, though that irony might still be lost on me. When in doubt, I still awaken behind the wheel, talking through my rear view mirror.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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