Daddy, can you tell me a story?
I’ve had a lot of good conversations with family, friends, and enemies alike. This week was full of thoughts and advice and futures and doubts. On a Monday, I found myself marching to the music in my head...wondering about you. Wishing you told me more about what happened when you were my age.
I want you to tell me the stories that you never told me. You told me about the time your car floated down the river in Northern Utah, you told me about the time your dad gave you the whipping of your life, and you told me about kissing in a car and steaming up the windows. You told me about shoveling snow and chasing your brother on the ice when he “tagged you last.”
I know about fishing and scouts, campfires and first kisses, but I don’t know about when you were twenty-three.
Were you lost like me? I’m guessing you were stupid and stubborn like me because i’m stupid and stubborn like you. When things got hard, did you work harder? When things got scary, did you ever hide under the covers? When you felt lost, did you try and find your way or did you choose to stay lost for a while longer? Why, sometimes, does it seem like the more lost I am, the stronger I feel? Did you feel that way too?
We both traveled for reasons. And when you were twenty-three, you left the country for no reason. And you learned another tongue, worked a wild job, and lived with a roommate who drank enough for him and for the always-sober you. Did you ever feel like you’d make enough money to buy a nice shirt, a nice suit, a nice car, a nice place, a nice ring? I'll tell you what: I feel so far away from buying anything worth having, and I feel so far away from having anything worth buying.
Today I walked on a snow-topped sidewalk. The cold has just begun. I feel inspiration. I feel like a song’s about to be sung. I feel like I’m in motion, like i’m never going to stop. And as wild as my life has been, I still feel like a rock. I’ve never been one to follow those green paper bills, but I’ve always followed the colors, the colors of this world and the next. And the magic is...and the problems is... These colors are everywhere, and they go everywhere.
I want you to tell me the stories that you never told. Not of when you were a young, spritely boy, but of the ones when you were old. The ones where things weren’t a perfect summer month. What was it like meeting a girl you thought you might like to marry? What was it like letting her go? Did you ever feel strong enough to take care of someone else? When you held a woman, did you feel like you could carry the weight of you both? Sometimes I feel too tired to carry anything at all, and yet I still feel like I carry more than I can handle everyday.
I’m sitting on the floor in my underwear and greasy hair, counting up dollar bills that i’ve been tipped throughout the week. I’m scratching my head, wondering how I manage to feed myself and still buy those new running shoes. I hate the smell of money and the way it makes my hands feel dirty. But I dream of getting on an airplane with a small bag and having my everywhere as my somewhere. Is that why you went back to Korea? Is that why you still fly to China? Is that why I always want to fly away?
Did you ever think you would be able to pay for six children’s lives and still get them the presents they wrote down on their Christmas list? Did you ever think you’d find a woman that would make little half-you’s that would turn out to be stubborn and stupid and creative like you? Did you ever think you’d stop struggling? Did you ever think you’d be able to give everyone you loved what they wanted? I don't know what I think. The future is as foggy as a San Francisco sunrise.
I’m a little lost, a little worn. I’m young, I know, but I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve been born. I need some more mistakes under my belt. I need a couple more wins to brag about. Sometimes I get scared about the future, about rent, about falling in love, about being an adult. Sometimes the doubt wins over my hopes and dreams. But I think of all of the stories you never told about how you grew from young to old. And I always come back stronger, because I think about when you were twenty-three. When you were young and broke and stupid and stubborn, just like me.