From the Xanga Grave

So I wrote this post on my Xanga a few months back, and I felt it was good enough to deserve a second publication here on wordpress. It was a particularly meaningful piece for me, and I hope it will reach new eyes and ears here. I realize it is a bit “heavy” but I would sincerely enjoy comments from any and all who read it.

I decided not to edit it, but to simply put it as it once was. I think it helps retain the emotion of it.

Currently Reading
A Boy’s Own Story
By Edmund White

A father remembered

So a few weeks ago I read “A Boy’s Own Story” by Edmund White.

The book is set in the 1950’s and told from the narrator’s (who is never named) point of view. The narrator tells basically 6 different stories about his life (not in sequential order), and mainly focus on his realization that he is gay, what he thinks about being gay, and how his desire to explore guides him down certain paths.

It is difficult to describe it in better detail than that, because there is not really a lot of “plot” to be discussed. The reason this book is so fascinating is the way it is written. The author is able to write about very subtle moments in a way that paints a vivid, real, and captivating image in the mind of the reader. I even found myself highlighting passages and writing my thoughts in the margins. I normally HATE writing in books that I read for pleasure, but this author has described things so eerily close to my own experience that I felt like I was editing sections of my own personal journal.

Obviously there are some MAJOR differences between this narrator and myself, but the only one I feel compelled to mention is the Narrator’s obsession with his father. The narrator’s father reminded me so much of my own with a very few differences. The narrator’s father works mainly at night, divorced his first wife, and enjoys classical music. However the narrator’s father is a lot like my own. They both worked all the time, did not get along with strangers, had few to no friends, rarely showed emotion. They also both married women who were social, attractive, good mothers, and willing to put up with a lot of crap. The number of similarities are actually longer. The only other one I thought that was bizarrely parallel is when the narrator wants something big (to be sent to a boarding school) the father asks his son to type out a proposal with a detailed list of schools explaining why the reasoning for why he feels he must go to a boarding school. This reminded me that I had to draw up a financial budget for what I needed in order to go to Law School.

As I said the major difference was that the narrator has this bizarre Electra Complex going on with his father, which I’ve certainly never felt. I found it creepy, but it did remind me of a time when I was young and wanted NOTHING MORE than to please my father. Unfortunately, I was very effeminate even as a child, but I do remember my father and I bonding over the Nintendo when I was in kindergarten. We would play 2 player and I think it is partially the reason I was so obsessed with it. After the games got more complicated (my dad thought Mario was difficult) he stopped playing/watching with me. I chose to continue playing, as I thought they were fun, but never giving up hope that if he ever asked, I’d be able to dazzle him with my abilities.

It was nice to remember a time when my father and I had a deep love between father and son. I had almost forgotten it entirely, and I think by remembering it I was able to forgive him for a lot of silly things I still held against him. I remember now when I was about 5 years old I would get home from school, watch cartoons, play with my toys in living room on the coffee table, attempt to “help” my mother with dinner, but when the back door opened whatever I was doing I would immediately stop and run to my father (who I called “daddy” at that time) and jump and give him a big hug. It was so strange to remember that emotion, and part of me felt disgusted that I ever acted like that, but I was also sad that instead of being really close we became completely closed off from one another.

I feel strange hugging my father, but I do it even when he extends his hand to shake mine. I don’t know if he would prefer to shake my hand, but I know that I would prefer to hug him. As much as I hate to admit it, I still love my dad. I love him despite the fact that he is conservative in every sense of the word, and would probably give up his hand to a straight son who had gone to business school, married some trophy wife, and made a lot of money as he climbed his way up the corporate ladder. I love him. I love him because despite the fact he sees the son he wanted, he is still willing to help the son he has. He provided a problematic child with the best education, he paid for tutoring, and he even attended most of my early theatre work. My father who is tone deaf, and has a hard time understanding anything classic, sat through Musicals, Opera, and Shakespeare. Recognizing all of this it is obvious that despite my father never being emotive, he loves me as much as he can. I also realized I was being hypocritical of my father. I hated my father for wanting me to live the life he wanted for a son, and played the victim. However, it was just as wrong for me to want my father to be a different man than he is. If I love my father, then I have to learn to love him for the man he is, not the man I want him to be. It’s hard to not compare him to the dream dad in my head, but it I need to stop doing it.

In this way I feel my father has actually been ahead of me. My father accepted (at least to some degree) me as who I was, and then just focused on what he saw as my good traits (my apparent knack for the Law) as something to be proud of. I may not be a CEO, but I may someday help a CEO out of some sticky legal situation, and my father can be proud of that. This is something I’m striving to do now. I feel I’ve accepted my father as he is, and I am trying to focus on the good things my father did/does for me in my life. I find it hard to do when I feel his conservative nature is so terrible, but love includes taking the bad too. I just worry about treading the line of loving my father as he is, but still holding the position that some of his views are simply unacceptable to me. I hate it when people say “hate the sin, but love the sinner” because I think it can send the wrong message. Today, however, I feel it’s my best option. Nothing will be accomplished if I refuse to like any part of my father because I don’t like all aspects of him. I, therefore, must make every effort to love him, and hope that by knowing me his opinions will eventually change.


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