Today is my father’s birthday. Born 1962. That’s one of the few facts that stick with you after someone’s gone. Thirteen days ago, seafoammag.com graciously published my first poem of sorts. It seemed apropos to post the original draft, the whole story, if you will.
I have this story, a memory –
I was a child, a baby really. At the fabric’s hem of consciousness and awareness. Life and memories of life. I was three, maybe four.
My father, the man with the dimples in his skin, beer on his breath, a glint in his gaze. One eye had a birthmark on the iris – like a punched out hole piece of paper took a shining to his ocular.
I remember we were flying. The road signs were German and the streets, cobble.
I wore no seatbelt, I wore no helmet. We were on his motorcycle and we were flying. I was three, maybe four.
My father, the drinker. My father, the profane. The loud talker so you’d recognize that he could always increase the volume. He drove his baby girl around on his Harley in Heidelberg and dared anyone to say anything. My mom got real good at biting her tongue.
I was a child. I have this memory.
Decades later I’m 25. On that day I’m a drinker. Vodka and pineapple juice and ice. I’m with family,
“go fix it yourself.”
I’m outside the Capitol city, my birthplace. I talk life with my uncle, his brother.
They look so much alike. They couldn’t be more different. My uncle and his soon-to-be wife, his partner when they were in warfare, they have motorcycles. They have teenagers.
I relay to him this story, this memory. He adds to it. There is more to this story.
My father, the drinker. My father, the youngest son.
Uncle Sam sees you on his shore or another and my father was flying down a German street. Drunk.
The MPs, the military police, they didn’t like that. So they arrested my father and took his bike. I’m sure there were legal ways to retrieve it, but you see this was my father. The one who liked to go flying with his baby girl – maybe even when he’d been drinking.
I wouldn’t know. I only have the one memory.
My father, the irate. My father, the impatient. He hopped a fence and he stole back his bike. The MPs didn’t like that.
Men escorted him to the airport. Men put him on a plane. Men left only once they were sure he was well on his way back to the states.
I was a child. Three, maybe four.
My uncle marveled. He can barely trust his sixteen year old on the back of his bike. Helmet on. Buckled in. Arms wrapped around his father’s middle.
A baby, really.
One bad pothole could have made a gruesome, international headline.
I was a child. A baby, really. His baby girl.
I am no longer a child. I do not answer to his “baby girl”. I don’t answer to his anything. I drink but am loathe to deem myself a drinker. However, I am profane and impatient and the youngest, too. I am my father’s daughter. Which begs the question –
Who will I be to my child? Will I be more than a story, just a memory?