Friday, August 10, 2007

The latter part of last week saw an online friend of mine, L., meet my wife and I for the first time. L. was driving up to northern California for a convention and I had enjoyed communicating with her so much I invited her to stop at our house to spend the night. She agreed, and when she arrived, my wife and I knew we liked her. She was delightful; intelligent, interesting, charming, gracious. Given my experience of human nature, this probably means she's a lying con artist who's out to rip us off for anything she can take. Well, until that reveals itself, I'll choose to believe she's a friend and a "good soul." I only have so much mental energy to devote to paranoia, and right now it's all going into an area I'll take about shortly.

I enjoyed hosting L. Being able to take her out to dinner with my family, giving her a clean, comfortable, private place to sleep; taking care of her needs made me feel as though I were doing something valuable and necessary, something that was right to do. Even if she does turn out to be a scammer, I believe I did what was appropriate for me to do: Show her hospitality. It doesn't matter if she's a criminal or queen of Denmark; hospitality was a good gift I could give her freely. I enjoyed that.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Papa was a rollin' stone"

Dad, where are you? What happened to you?

I miss you, Dad.

"It was the third of September,
That day I'll always remember,
'Cause that was the day,
That my daddy died"

Where are you?

"I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothin' but bad things about him
Mama, I'm dependin' on you
To tell me the truth"

I don't remember you much before you left us. Afterward, Mom was really hurt down inside, you could see it in her eyes, the way she held her body, hear it in her words.

"Mama just hung her head and said
'Papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home

Is that why you were always away? Is that why you weren't there? You wanted something else more than us?

'And when he died
All he left us was alone'"

Dad, I needed you and you weren't there. Why? What was more important than us?

"Papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died
All he left us was alone"

You came back for a few months, but even I could tell things weren't like before, they weren't right. You didn't fit into our house anymore. Then you left again and you never came back except to see me, but it wasn't you there those times, it was what you had to do.

"Mama, I'm depending on you to tell me the truth
And Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said"

Dad, now you've left us for the third time, and you can't come back from this one. Where did you go?

"All he left us was alone."

How do I be a man, Dad? How do I do this thing? So many people yelling at me to be this way, that way, go here, there, everyone trying to sell me the right way to be, so many people pretending to be my friend.

"Papa was a rollin' stone"

Even some of the things you told me I had to jettison, Dad. I can't work myself into being a man, or even a better person than I am. I can't be a man alone, Dad. I can't live my life through solely my job and my duties. I can't turn my back on my friends even though you called them "psychological cripples." They're happy, Dad, at least for the most part. They love each other, they tell me they love me and then they show up for me. You didn't. Where did you go? Why?

"And when he died
All he left us was alone"

I try to listen to God, Dad, but so many times I can't feel Him, I can't see Him, I look for Him and His room is empty, His drawers cleaned out and He's not there.

Where did He go? What was more important than me?

"Wherever he laid his hat was his home"

Sometimes I hate you Dad, I hate you leaving us, I hate you making Amway and your girlfriends and your job more important than us.

You lectured me, Dad, but I look back and we never talked. Why? Did you talk to anyone, even your friends? Did you lecture them as well? You and I never talked--were you afraid? You told me on your sixteenth birthday, Grandpa gave you $10, handed it across a table to you in a chance meeting in the dining room, and it was the first time he had given you money. It was the first time and I guess the last time your birthday was acknowledged in that house. Was he like you, only moreso? Could you not get past him? Were you afraid?

"Papa was a rollin' stone"

You were so strong, what could frighten you?

"Papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home"

Why did you take home away from us, Dad?

Now I am old enough people say I am a man, but I don't feel like one. Inside me, I feel like a child. You can't bless me, Dad. You can't make me a man and you never could. No one can. This is where I get to trust God. The God who leaves me alone at times. The only God I know, the only God in the game, the God I have to trust but who seems so capricious.

This is what I'm afraid of.

Papa Was a Rolling Stone
By Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong