I am my father’s son.
My father and mother separated when I was a little kid. Near as I can tell from the pictures, it was in 1973, when I was four or five.
My Dad and Mom were… let’s just say, less than a perfect match for each other. When they divorced, my Dad moved out to an apartment across town, and I stayed with my Mom.
That’s not to say that my Dad moved out of my life. Far from it. For all the angst in their relationship with each other, they always agreed on one thing – that I should have both of my parents in my life.
My dad is a consummate salesman who knows EVERYONE in Tucson. This was underscored for me once when I was walking through El Con Mall with him, and every five steps – I kid you not – someone stopped him to say hello.
The gift of gab is one thing I didn’t inherit from my father. He can sell just about anything to anyone – I’ve seen him do it. But I think a bit of his ability with words translated in part to my gift for writing.
My Dad didn’t really get the whole sci fi thing when I was growing up and compulsively reading Anne McCaffrey and Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I used to spend weekends at his place drawing out maps of other worlds, imagining being a sci fi writer – they were drawn on the back of this paper my stepmother brought home from her office, and I would tape them together to make these ten-foot-long designs.
I think Dad probably just looked in on me and shook his head in bemused wonder.
But when I asked him for the thing I wanted most when I was sixteen – a hardback copy of Anne McCaffrey’s latest, “Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern” – I found it wrapped up under the Christmas tree.
It was one of those memories of him that I treasure, though I don’t know if he even recalls it now.
My dad made his career as a moving company estimator – the guy who comes to your house and figures out how big a truck you’re gonna need when you have sold your home. He was doing this long before they had devices to do it for you, and he always had this amazing, innate skill. My dad has a keen sense of space and spatial relationships, and that’s definitely something I got from him.
I can see a place and know I have been there before because of the way this sign is in front of that building at a particular angle.
I can drive through a city once or twice and visualize how it all fits together in my head, creating my own internal map. My love of maps in general comes from this, and I think this skill plays a big part in my ability to tell tales in places I’ve never been to – I can see/feel exactly how they fit together in my head.
I once went on a fishing trip with Dad up in Lake Tahoe. I was hoping for a “River Runs Through It” father-son bonding moment. Instead, I froze my ass off and caught exactly zero fish, and we spent the weekend in mostly idle chit-chat. My Dad, for all his ability to communicate, has a hard time opening up and sharing deeply.
He’s a straight guy, and I hear that’s kinda endemic in the species. 😛
He uses humor as a deflection, another thing I got from him. That’s not all bad – it’s helped me deal with some of the heartache that comes with being gay in this world, by laughing it off.
But his tendency to deflect is why his moments of stark honesty and candor, when they do come, are such a gift.
Like the day he first told me how proud he was of me for my writing.
As a writer and a human being, I am the product of everyone who came before me – my parents, my grandparents, and the family lines stretching back for generations and generations.
But I treasure the gifts I got from my parents, most of all.
I am my father’s son.