Archive for the ‘Barbecuing butterflies on butane (Ch. 3)’ Category

“Karma is a Female Dog”

-Barbecuing butterflies on butane (Chapter 3)-

January 27th of last year, Sarah’s birthday, we moved into a big house with plenty of rooms to spare (happy birthday, Sarah..!).  It took some time for the kids to adjust to the freedom of having their own spaces.  However, a certain groove was established as we ran forward with the speed of life.  Things were great.  It hasn’t always been smooth, but it has never been dull. We were settling into a natural feeling routine.   The kids…well, they’re 5 kids under 9… keep us on our toes.

And then the inevitable shark fin of Karma broke the surface and started slowly heading towards the shore.  My first son was trying to reach me again.  He was now nineteen, just as I was when first struggling to make life work to my advantage.  Confused, lost, and not sure where to go, he explains to me.  I should’ve come to Idaho to get to know you better instead of joining the military, he tells me over the phone.  I want to change my last name back to yours.  To hell with my mom and step-dad… I want to know my real dad. He sounds very convincing.  Please, I have nowhere else to turn.  They don’t want me back.  Can I please live with you, get to know you, and start a new life there?

Suddenly I feel guilt waking up inside me.  Guilt is the drug dealing cousin of Karma.

Of course you can, I tell him.  You’re more than welcome here. Just from the first few phone chats with him, I realize that he’s a lot like me in some ways, and nothing like me in others.  I’d expected some sense of feeling this way, but nothing as complex as it turned out to be.  I explained that a name change is not something to take lightly.  Plus, it wasn’t something I’d ever expect from anyone… even my own flesh & blood.  I wouldn’t be doing it for you, he’d assure me.  Don’t try to talk me out of it, though.  I’m going to do it regardless. It was this attitude which should have been the red flag for me from the get-go.

Our initial conversations were short and unpredictable.  Sometimes we’d go a month or more without speaking.  His biggest regrets circled between entering the military and not trying to find me sooner.  So, my cynicism softened.  After all, it was my fault things had happened the way they did.  It was starting to look like perhaps I hadn’t waited long enough for Karma to actually pay something back for my dedication to fixing it.  My sentiments towards this mysterious force were suddenly challenged with the news of my son choosing to come to me versus the people who kept him from me.  “Karma’s a bitch!” I whispered to myself.

Was he really at a point where he could break free of the false notions and prejudices?  This could easily help destroy the guilt I’d carried through the years while getting to know my son for the first time as an adult.  It was almost too good to be true.  Sure, it’d be a bit awkward at first, but the satisfaction of having another chance would make any challenges worth going on the journey.  Holidays, concerts, barbeques, football parties, family, siblings reuniting… It had the makings of a Lifetime movie where you’re ugly crying tears of joy by the time the opening credits roll.  If Karma wrote a screenplay… this would be an Oscar winner.

When the day finally came for his flight to bring him to the Boise airport, my pulse was rapid.  I’d never in a million years expected this moment to actually happen.  The few phone calls in the days before he arrived were frantic and hurried.  He was desperate to get out of Texas and start a new chapter.  We were more than willing to provide that fresh start.  When I met him at the terminal gates, it was shocking to realize he towers me by a couple inches.  We exchanged an awkward hug and headed down the escalator.  After a quick stop at Subway, it was time to head to the house to meet his step-mom, and half-siblings.

The first week was distant.  He spent a great deal of this time in a reluctant silence, holed up in his new room, while sitting at the edge of the bed, dinking around on his laptop.  Facebook, MyYearBook, Youtube, Guild Wars, stuff that even I would cringe at while watching… We didn’t want to say much to make him feel more uncomfortable.  It was going to be an adjustment for everyone.  I need baby steps.  Please remember I need baby steps. Clinging to optimism, we assumed it was going to be fine.  The other kids were stoked, albeit also reluctant, to have an older brother.  Acceptance, tolerance, love, respect, and a degree of Karma…  Those are the foundations of what we teach the collective whole of our children.  It was a rule we’d made clear from the beginning:  don’t expect to come here and have everything change just because you’re living here now.  We practice equality and you’re no different than the rest of us (minus the fact that you’re nineteen, yet I can’t send you to a corner if you say vile things to me).

I took some days off work to spend some time with him.  He struggled with talking about anything deep.  That’s ok; I didn’t want to push it.  At this point it was moot point.  There was no reason for him to feel pressured.  However, his occasional spiteful sarcastic comments towards other members of the family, and how Idaho stinks, and how he hates it here already, and incessantly sitting at the computer, were threatening to throw acid at my smile.  The last thing I wanted to be in this experiment was an enabler of a 6’4” child.  Yet, he had a smug air of entitlement.  As if this entire living arrangement was expected of us and the routine we’d worked so hard to establish had to be altered to make him comfortable. This caused my skepticisms to zig-zag.  As bitter as all of this may seem, I’m typically a hell of a nice guy.  This is all about breaching the threshold of limitations for ‘nice’ while trying not to piss vinegar.

“…and the whispering of the wise never entertains the fools.”

…Chapter 4 on morrow’s eve…