There’s no life as rewarding as a bachelor’s. It’s solitaire and quiet like a desert island stocked with water although water, for me, wasn’t a necessity. I felt spoiled being alone. The world was mine. I knew where everything was and where everything was supposed to be. I chose when I wanted to wake up; I chose when I wanted to take a nap. When I wanted to use the bathroom, I went. My world was open to myself only. And I didn’t mind standing myself up every once in a while. A night in meant I wasn’t causing any trouble.
There were a few evenings I would enjoy a Blue Moon amongst dreamers breathing over their liquor. But no one knew where I was. No one knew where I came from. I had my own curfew. It felt free.
I remember my father taking me to a Journey concert when I was seventeen. Steve Perry screamed into the microphone, “We just wrote this song about two weeks ago.” And then he began jittering with his coattail flailing.
I swore love found me indefinitely. His voice felt pure. It was clear and shrill as a storm in the middle of the night with the rumbling of thunder deeper than any bass in the world. I felt belonging to something. I was close to euphoria. I felt warm and it wasn’t because my father let me drink a whole beer that night. I believed in something and it felt sure in my heart.
My father and I slid our way to the front as they finished their last set. My face was drenched with other people’s sweat.
“Didn’t I tell you it would be awesome?” he shouted over his shoulder.
He appeared younger to me then. Some nights, I caught him crying over photos of my mother, the both of them wearing colorful jackets and tangled hair. There were photos of him in ashen jeans with legs that looked famished and brittle. He’d stuff them back in and turn the television on nonchalantly letting the tears on his face dry themselves. I’d creep back up the stairs like creeping made the wood creaking quieter. No, my father was his youngest that night he led me through the stuffy crowd of a thousand.
“Aw,” he laughed, “Look at Steve Smith!”
He gazed at them impressed and truly entertained. His arms were crossed. His legs were spread. He had three drinks that night so he just bobbed his head for the rest of the concert with a cheer like he knew them. He was composed and collected and he was proud.
The fans raged around us.
I watched him, amazed.
He leaned on the tips on his toes and smiled bigger.
“Yup, that’s him!” he said giddily.
And then he raised two fingers and fired a pretend shot at Steve Smith’s yellow target t-shirt.
I felt like his pal at that moment. His friendly elbowing and jovial bellowing felt more special to me because he was my father. He was my father, so far advanced in wisdom from me that he didn’t even have to explain it. I had been searching for what he wasn’t sharing with me not knowing that it was beyond me. I’d understand it only through my own manhood.
When I thought about my father, he was floating on air. He possessed a kind of delicacy he inherited when my mother passed. When he entered the room, he lit up. It was contagious. It was as if he had the power to change everyone’s mood while still having a boundary around his vast, quiet mind.
It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling. He made it a point to notice me when he entered the same room I was in but his insouciance made him distant. I wished he shared with me what he was thinking when he stared at the old photos. I wish he broke down the wall that made him so far more advanced than me. He stared straight ahead of him with the stage lights glaring on his face and boyish confusion lingered in me.
I seldom heard stories about my mother. I learned about her in the characteristics that weren’t like my father’s. My father was grounded; I was curious in all the worst ways. Their relationship was so short-term that I had trouble calling them “right.” They were young and emotionally insubstantial. And I was as far from right for my father as she might have been for him.
When my father cried, I knew he loved her. He missed her sculpted pale beauty and her clean white smile. But, when I thought about it, they were just knocked up teenagers not understanding to what a grownup was.
I loved my mother, though. I loved what little I had of her.
Journey’s harmonization rang in my ear as we spilled out of the auditorium. Neal Schon’s solo imprinted in my brain. His white one-piece was louder than everyone on stage. I figured it was a bit of a statement. I remember Steve Smith striking on his drums for a moment, his frizzy hair bouncing with the tempo. The thudding followed the beat of my heart. Anxiety rushed before me because I knew the feeling wouldn’t return. My love wouldn’t divide. My bound chains weren’t going to break. True love would never desert me because I never knew love at all.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B005N4DOJ2,B000G7PNKO,B0000TGADW]