What Did You Know About My Father?

Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?

They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.

But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…

I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.

So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?

Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?

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My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.

Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?

So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….

But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?

 

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Zack

Zack’s full name is Zachary Paul Williams. I met him in 2007 for the first time and he saved my life. Ever since then he’s been my personal hero. Zack lives on the street. If indeed he is still alive.

In 2007 I seemed to be at a fulfilling beautiful point in my life. Great career, great friends, was with a man I loved with a intense passion. But unbeknownst to me, I was in reality, still a fragile dark creature that was simply living in the sun for a moment. The man I loved left and I allowed everything to come crashing down. Looking back I can’t believe I had no fortitude to keep something…anything afloat but at the time I wasn’t strong enough alone to stop the threads of my life from fraying and unraveling.

So on an actual dark and stormy night I took off from my life and drove my car haphazardly down an empty highway, tears burning my eyes and streaming down my face. My mind racing I had no choices. My life was over and in my heart of hearts I felt abandoned for the last time. Drive off a cliff was the only thing that came to mind. I wasn’t thinking in words anymore, only in storyboards.

Drive off cliff. Pain ends. Heart won’t hurt so much.

But like anyone that can’t cope with an intense onslaught of emotions, I had fear first. Overwhelmed and hurting on a physical level, I pulled over at a closed gas station and fell on the ground sobbing. No solution, only pain.

Then Zack. A dirty homeless man on a bike looking for cans if I recall correctly. Much too emotional to be scared of this stranger in a terrible area of town, when he approached me I continued to sob uncontrollably.

“Are you ok?”

“No! My life is over.”

“What happened?”

“The man I love left me…he LEFT me… I can’t… I can’t….”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It’s not the end you know.”

“It is! He is the only one I had and now I have nothing and nobody. What am I going to do…”

“Get up every day.”

“I can’t! It hurts…you don’t understand!!!”

“I don’t? I beat an addiction, got a great job and had a wife and baby girl…. and I woke up one morning and they were gone. My wife took everything, and she took my daughter….. they had to lock me up I went insane it hurt so bad. I lost my job, I lost everything…. I’m using drugs again, my life is shit. Don’t tell me I don’t understand.”

Caught completely off guard.

“Sorry…”

“But you know what? I’m still here.”

“How are you… I mean didn’t you just wanna die?”

“Every single day”

“But then…”

“You just have to fake it until you make it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Wake up every day. Breathe in and out. Pretend you’re not in excruciating pain. Live a lie. And one day the pain will actually be less. It’s never going to go away. But it will get better. I promise.”

I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. Either that or it hurts too much to remember. This man who didn’t know me, who had NOTHING, gave me a chance at staying alive. I am fairly certain I was emotionally unstable enough to end my life that night. And his words, his completely sincere and compassionate nature….let me believe I had a chance. It was months, perhaps years until I healed from it, still hurts today, but he was right. It got better. And THAT night, he let me stay alive. Love him until the end of time. He’s a part of my soul and a part of my life for always. I wear his name in ink on my wrist along with the names of the most important people to touch my life. I defend his honor with the ferocity of a mother who has a threatened child.

I left that night with a spark of hope. Enough to sustain me until morning. Fake it til you make it.

I only saw Zack one more time after that…. but that dear friends is a story for another day.

 

 

The Macklemore Possession

Macklemore is mine. No I’m not a crazed fan. You probably took that in the way some crazy twelve year old Bieber fan would say it. But no, I mean…. Macklemore is mine.

Very rarely some type of artist, musical or not comes into my life and becomes a person in my life to the point where I feel as if I know him or her. Long before MTV did or ITunes did, I knew about a hip hop artist named Macklemore. I fell sleep to his music, drove to his music, worked to his music and cried to his music. And now that he’s hit the big time, it’s the same feeling I get with my kids when they hit a milestone. He’s like family and I’m so proud. But the selfish girl in me is looking around saying, ummm helllllo, didn’t you know I liked him first, he’s MY family?

It’s all sounding like some neo-Misery plot but it’s authentic. It touches my soul when he raps. And I want him to be able to escape every pit fall that is presented to those shot into stardom. He unlike many others, has worked his tail off for it. Struggled with sobriety. Kept his friends close. Treats his women good. Tells complete strangers his heart and his humor. He’s you and he’s me.

But don’t forget he’s also mine.

My selfish mind doesn’t believe he touches anyone else’s heart or mind. But a step as a human is…. go download it, go listen to it. You’re welcome.