Letter to my dad, but not my father figure.

Dear Dad,

I am awake and heading into town. You were right about writing early. Beautiful thoughts are filling my head this morning, giving me sway to write (now I am not so sure they are beautiful, but it feels good to have them in my head). It would be nice to see you, even if just for a moment. The coffee will be extra strong if you agree to come see me.

(he agreed)

A drip of water drops next to me this morning. I am outside, and there are no lampposts, overhangs, or trees near me, so I can’t understand where it came from. Maybe just a lone raindrop? That seems unlikely. I am completely stumped over this single drip, so I look up.


Of course. There are powerlines constantly over my head- so often in fact, that their presence has ceased to register on my mental radar screen. This morning a drip of water drops from some powerlines, wet after a heavy rain the previous night, whizzes right past my face, and for the life of me I can’t figure it out. If I was focusing on the powerlines, hanging dangerous and flaccid above me, all the time, would I start to go insane?

Watsonville and Santa Cruz do not exist on a map. They are not related to each other by any miles or compass directions. They only exist as two ends of a lonely busline that I take every day. An hour there, and an hour back.

Do not say that I am not a morning person. I hate that. Someone says “geez, you’re not much of a morning person, are you?” I will say, “Just because I don’t enjoy blithely socializing with everyone I know the moment I wake up doesn’t mean I’m not a morning person. I love the morning, but I prefer to spent it differently than you do.”

I came up with that before anyone had said anything so that when someone did I would seem quick-witted, opinionated, and ready and maybe for that moment I would transform into a comic book character.

Dad, you told me that when you were a kid you spent a lot of your time coming up with good comebacks. Comebacks that would penetrate your bully’s deepest insecurities- something that would cut to the quick (a phrase I’ve always enjoyed). Something so devastatingly true that it would cut the conversation clean off. The jack of trump of all 5th grade squabbles.

Is that really what you wanted, dad? Is that really what I want? To be the best undiscovered retort writer in school, brooding in secret corners, spilling over with brilliant quips to which their conversational counterparts will remain only imaginary? Or is the goal really just the private satisfaction gained from playing these idyllic scenarios out, over and over in our heads, being convinced that for them to actually take place would be contrived and unnecessary so that we can do our best to refrain from steering every casual conversation to that impossible desired setup?

Danny and I talked about teams the other day. You know the kind. Your special, secret, private team of people you know, for the hard times, for the good times, for when the shit finally and climactically goes down.  Everybody has a list in their head or on paper of at least the first few people, if they don’t already have the whole list pegged. If you didn’t think about this before, you’re going to now. We talked fondly of our teams, naming names. I admitted that my team’s first slot was private, but that I had a terrible feeling that even though the person was at the top of the list, they would evasively never be on my team.  Danny told me that she had the first three people (at least!) solidly down, and I was under the impression that they had even all talked about and agreed on this.

It’s chilly today, but not a deep chill. Chilly like it’s supposed be chilly- chilly breezes, but everything’s dry and the sun’s warming me a little. I had a smell in my nose a couple of minutes ago like chicago or a smell like waiting in a trainyard. It didn’t smell like chigaco or the trainyard, but like the experience of it. It smelled good. Really good. I think I am smart enough in my life now to understand what that means.

Dad, this is not a nostalgic letter- don’t get confused now. But when you hug me, you pull on the hair on the back of my head, just above my neck, so hard that it hurts and I know that you love me. This is not a love letter either, but when you write to me you say “I love you so much, I can’t even tell you,”  you of course, keep to your word on that. Dad, this letter is for you, but for fuck’s sake, don’t read it, because neither of us wants you to know that when I secretly devise my team, you’re my number one.

But you kept your word, and since you love me,  you damn sure ain’t tellin’.  And if you love me, I sure as hell will be the last to know, so when you come in for your coffee, you better expect it to be cold because you took too long to get here and I got tired of waiting and went back on home. This time, my busline is some other number. An hour there, and an hour, and an hour, and-

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