I was tagged a week or so ago, and haven’t reciprocated. Well, I have, actually, but I guess you’d have to pick it up by inference. If I remember correctly, the meme had to do with letting people know more about myself through an interview of sorts. I had already done the meme, as I was tagged by someone else first. So, I’ve been constructing a few posts that essentially do the same thing, but not in meme form. So Jo! I’m reciprocating — it’s just may not look like I am.
Well, I couldn’t ask for a better transition…
Last night while we were watching House, one of the characters said, “He’s not afraid to be you, he’s afraid of who you think you are.” I don’t want to get involved in which character said this, or reference about whom. That isn’t the point. Do you like how I’m circumventing that one? Because I probably don’t know their names. I know I should, because I often watch House, but they’re really only fictitional characters, right? So what difference does it make? Like I was saying, that isn’t the point.
The point is…that I immediately thought of my oldest son. The one who seems to be trudging through life — or flitting, depending on the observer’s perspective. My bets are on trudging, but I’ll get to that later. So what would make me instantly connect to him after hearing the line spoken? Because as a parent who has already raised two children to adulthood, I often wonder whether I did a good job. You know, whether the whole effort of creating two more humans has been a good thing for society. Of course I’m going to say yes immediately, but that’s the easy answer.
When my oldest son was about the age of 15 or so, I remember him saying that we — the MoH and I — made working look very difficult. That it was all we did, and that it seemed we weren’t very happy about it. My reaction was a combination of, “Wow, he noticed,” and “Crap, what the hell is that all about and what kind of an example is that to set for your kids?” My oldest son — MoS — is an amazing artist. He draws. He doesn’t sketch, or paint, or sculpt. He draws. He picked up a pencil very early, and just began to draw things he saw. He went through odd phases, where all his drawings were of empty intersections with complicated arrangements of stop lights and light posts. He also developed a very early fascination with how things work — in particular machinery, and buildings. So I probably don’t have to tell you about the number of Leggos we own, right?
He began building very complicated buildings with his Leggos by the age of 5. And then he began to invent strange things like those automatic door closers that are mounted up on the frame. So we had those made of Leggos taped to all our doors. We had Leggos everywhere. You do know what it feels like to step on one, right? It’s a very special kind of pain. And sucking them up into the vacuum? You also know that you have to get them out of the vacuum because each freaking piece costs about 25 cents. Plus if that particular piece can’t be found, hours will be spent digging through the box of Leggos. You can hear the sound, right? That “digging in the Leggos” clacking sound. And when the piece isn’t found, the “dumping the entire contents of the Leggo box on the bedroom floor” sound. You know, right? Leggos. Thousands and thousands of them.
I knew very early that MoS was an artist. So I made sure he had things to be creative with. But something happened along the way. This business of making work look hard caused a problem. Although everyone assumes when someone of MoS’ talent is plopped onto this Earth, that he will most certainly make a life and a living with that gift, sometimes they don’t. In fact, I know that lots of times very talented people are just square pegs in the very round hole that is our society. Especially in this country. MoS’ square pegginess is huge.
At the age of 15, he took a look at his resident role models and decided that he didn’t want to turn his drawing into study at school and then a career, because he loved to draw. That if it became his living instead of his love, that he wouldn’t enjoy it any longer. It would become work. It would be “hard.” About this time, he became extremely interested in cars as well. Yes, he drew them. Drew the outside, the inside, drew different views, and yes, drew very intricate pictures of their engines as well. Just any car? Nope. Corvairs. Go figure. And he didn’t just draw them. He could take an engine out of one and install another in the same car in less than three hours, and drive off to enjoy an afternoon. Really. He’s truly amazing.
So if he isn’t drawing, then is he working on cars? Nope. He still does both these things in his “spare” time. He has very little spare time because he is in school — finally — I think. We’re never sure. And he’s paying for it himself. We think. But we’re not sure about that, either. Because he works between 40 and 50 hours a week managing a pizza restaurant franchise for someone who is no longer interested in running the business. I know how hard it is to go to school and work, and I wonder if he’s making it. Remember what I said about trudging? Are you convinced? He spends ridiculous amounts of time hiring and firing extremely undependable high-school and college-aged kids, filling in for them when they don’t show up for their shifts, and loaning them his car for deliveries, because they wrecked theirs, or don’t have one, or?
What’s he studying in school? Architecture. What he was put on this earth to do. Draw. But we aren’t ever sure he’ll actually finish. He’s so busy making sure the damn pizza place doesn’t burn down, he barely has time for anything else. Maybe the problem is if he quits the pizza place, he’ll have to dedicate himself more seriously to school and therein lies the rub. He’s not afraid to be me, he’s afraid of who I think I am.
What did Emily Dickinson say?
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d advertise — you know!
How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
He’s not afraid to be me — a hard-working, serious nose to the ever-lovin’ grindstone kinda human. Never say die — just occasionally gasp for air — He’s afraid of who I think I am — nobody. Well, somebody, of course, but always trying to just be beige. At least that’s what I think I am. No?
Wow. That’s sobering.