Sticks and Stones
I'm hesitating, trying to delay the inevitable as I stare --or was that glare-- at the house that looms in front of me. I feel the years peel away and in my mind I go back to being the boy who once lived here... funny, I thought he had died decades ago. It's kind of strange, it looks like a nice house from out here, I never realized that... someone walking by might actually even think it inviting but that's not a word I would ever use to describe it. I know that its homelyness is just an illusion, I know what happened here behind close doors. My father has always lived for his image and the house is his facade to the world.
It's been two weeks since Aaron's arrest and my father decided to invite me over for dinner. I got a call from Sally informing me a couple of days ago, as usual my father couldn't be bothered to call me in person so he delegated the task. If he had delegated it to a secretary --to some stranger-- I probably would have refused, but I knew that if I said 'no' to Sally then she would be the one to get in trouble as a result. My father was never one to take a 'no' kindly and more than once he did shoot the messenger when he failed to get his way, so here I am, dreading the moment when the door will open and the house will swallow me once again.
I know it's absurd, I was here during the case --more than once-- but back then I had to focus on the work I had to do, I had to keep it professional and in spite of that there were a few memories that kept ambushing me at every single turn. Now that I'm here as me it is even worse and I can't help but remember the other things, the feelings, not the facts. I remember what it was like to never be good enough, to be made to doubt myself by the one person I was supposed to be able to turn to. Now that's a laugh... turning to my father was never an option if for no other reason than the fact that he was almost never there and when he was his absence would almost have been preferable. He was a 'real man', the kind that doesn't cry, doesn't hug, doesn't show any weaknesses, who can't accept anything short of perfection.
I guess the rational part of my brain can understand him somewhat better now. I've been giving it a lot of thought these past two weeks... not to mention that Blair has been on an outright campaign to get me to try and establish some sort of 'healthy' relationship with my father... and no, I don't think that's likely to happen but I don't want to fight my guide either.
In a way I can understand that my father was a product of his time, I'm old enough to do that now, I guess. I've been hanging around Sandburg long enough to realize that for a man brought up in the 30s being a father meant being a provider and maybe a disciplinarian. I understand that nothing ever prepared him for the challenges of being a single father... and that having to deal with a sentinel was obviously more than he could handle. I can also understand how back then a failed marriage, especially in my father's circle, was more of a stigma than it is now. I know that was something he felt he had to compensate for... but the thing is that this is not about thoughts. Understanding it doesn't mean excusing it and that's the problem, I may be able to understand why my father did what he did, but that doesn't mean I can forgive him.
He may have had his reasons for failing as a father but that does nothing to diminish his failure... and the fact that failure is not acceptable is one lesson he taught me well.
Blair may be right when he says that mending fences with him is something that's more for my benefit than his, I may be here more for Blair and Sally than for my dad or myself, but the fact remains that I am here now and there's no turning back, so I straighten my resolve and I walk up to the door, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.