I hate Father’s Day. It’s the one day of the year when, no matter what else I may be doing, I’m reminded of my place in the father/son equation, namely that I don’t have one, as both a son and as a mate/father.
My relationship with my father was nothing I’d care to burden you readers with, but let it suffice to say there were issues and as a result of his absence from my life and the attention he paid to building his second family — and, to his credit, apparently making that work — I had no male role model to teach me how to be a man. That’s a process I find myself still muddling through on a day-to-day basis with varying degrees of success, and I genuinely wish I’d had a dad who’d taken a genuine interest in me during my adolescence, but such was not the case and I like think that considering the circumstances I didn’t do too badly. But here I am at the age of nearly forty-three with no mate and no offspring, and there’s a deep, dark, empty place in my existence that I struggle to ignore and carry on in spite of, but while I’m able to handle it most of the time the days leading up to and including Father’s Day kick me right in the heart. It was especially difficult this time around due to events in recent weeks that have caused me to consider where I am in life, why I’m so unhappy, and what I can do about it (I have no answers for that one yet, alas).
You see, I had been reluctant to write about it because this blog is supposed to mostly be about my media obsessions and stay somewhat light and entertaining, but almost three weeks ago I awoke late one night and checked myself into the local ER because I felt strange in an undefined way; not in pain per se, but I knew something wasn’t right and I needed to get checked out. I ended up stuck in the hospital for thirty-six hours, the first time I’d been in a hospital since the day I was born, and while it was determined that my blood sugar was spiking due to my meds needing an adjustment I was nonetheless terrified and spent much of my sleepless time thinking about how alone I was. As the parade of nurses took sample after sample of my blood and I endured both a stress test and echo cardiogram — despite all my bad behavior over the years, it turns out I have a strong heart, thank you very much — I kept mulling over the recent backyard cookout I’d attended in Long Island, an event that gathers as many as possible of my extended family of friends from far and wide and allows me to see my gaggle of non-blood nieces and nephews.
I’ve always had a way with kids and I love these children as if they were my own, so when I get a chance to spend time with them I relish it and sometimes when I play and interact with them I think of them as the children that, at the rate my life is going, I’ll never have. When I got out of the hospital I resolved to keep a much closer eye on my health issues, both for my own sake and so I can see these marvelous children grow into the equally marvelous adults I’m certain they’ll grow up to be.
Then this weekend rolled around and last night I attended a friend’s grad school graduation party and discovered that my niece Cleo was there. She’s an adorable, happy little four-year old girly girl who fills my heart with delight whenever I get to spend time with her, and last night she was running around in her Boston Red Sox cheerleader outfit — a far cry from her preferred fairy princess mode — , looking too cute for words. Seeing her made me well up with sadness over the lack of a family of my own, and I was actually relieved to leave early in an effort to avoid having to travel on foot during the torrential downpours that pounded the area (my friend lives six blocks and nearly four very long avenues away from the Vault, and I would have been soaked to the bone during the walk home). Upon arriving home I was able to set aside my familial yearnings by having a long phone conversation with my friend Lia (aka “Karate Hottie”).
But my longing for family was only compounded when I went to meet my two-week-old niece Aurora, the daughter of Tracey the Waitress Goddess and her husband, Brendan. I only met Tracey a little over three years ago and in that time she’s come to be more of a sister to me than my own blood sibling — no offense, Meredith, but our schedules haven’t allowed us to spend as much time together as I’d like — so the birth of her daughter means a great deal to me and I feel greatly honored to be considered family. Holding the tiny, wriggling infant filled me with emotion, and thankfully Tracey and Brendan were in a mood to chat and catch up while I marveled at the helpless little new person Tracey’d just brought into the world. The conversation helped distract me from my paternal emptiness, but when I returned to my flat I lay on my futon, staring up at the ceiling and contemplating a fatherhood that grows less and less likely with each passing day. I then sank into a depressed sleep, a slumber marked by an uncharacteristic absence of dreams. Now I'm awake and satisfying my fantasies of family by running some old Johnny Weissmuller movies and living vicariously through Tarzan, Jane, and Boy, a family unit I've taken comfort with since childhood, and one I know all too well could never be real. The magic of Hollywood, and all that...
Sorry for this downer of a post, but I had to get it out of my system. I’ll be back to normal by tomorrow, so I thank you for bearing with me.