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Eyes Cast Downward- Memoir Excerpt

Originally hand written in July 2015 Late Spring of 2014.  Just Months before liver failure Our eyes are nearly always cast dow...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Birthday Decisions -Memoir Excerpt

In 1997 on my eleventh birthday...
My Father gave me a brand new diary, which was perfect and he should have left it at that.
He must have phoned my mother and asked her what I liked. 
Not knowing herself she must have said ballet. 

My father and I sat upon the balcony within this (what seemed to me, enormous) theater. 
Some famous ballet company was putting on a show. 
A performance I do not even recall the name of -but now that I think about it, considering the time of year, it most likely was "The Nutcracker". 
I was miserably bored.
 I couldn't see a damn thing, I was near sighted. 
My father did not even know that about me. How could he?
He definitely did not know that I despised ballet. 

I felt the same way I learned almost a decade later, one of my heroines Isadora Duncan felt about ballet: for the same exact reasons. 
I suppose he assumed I'd enjoy this because I had been a ballerina for nine years at this point ( age two to twelve I endured this rigor). 
It wasn't entirely his fault but this man, my blood, a part of my biological make up did not know the essence of this little girl, his daughter. Not at all.

Fidgeting, consistently looking up at him...weathered tanned skin, the cheap dress clothes (his best attempt to play the part). 
He wanted to do right by me this time. 
For his estranged, needy daughter on her special day.
I wanted so badly to be anywhere else. 
For some reason despite my young age, I was terrified of voicing my dissatisfaction or my true desire. 
I knew enough to understand that he tried "real hard" He truly wanted to make me happy. I did not even pick up on the distinct scent of liquor that typically came along with the nearness of him!
I also knew that he must have spent a whole lot of money that he didn't have on this grandiose event. Just for me and I hated it. 
I just could not bring myself to tell him. I wanted to but I was so afraid of "Hurtin his feelings"... Making him feel embarrassed, like a failure.
Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?? 
(A child should never have to feel this way. A child should be able to express themselves freely. Especially about discomfort or unhappiness. Nor should a child even concern themselves with the emotional needs of a care taker.)

This child was different, this father was different.

I spent at least a half an hour trying to non verbally communicate to him.
Then, the ceiling split open, a deus ex machina...
My small hands were gripping the soft maroon of the arm, my eyes averted from this supposed stage. Staring down at this loathsome pastel cumulus of a dress and kicking frilly sock covered legs up and down, seeing how close I could get the tips of my knock off Mary Jane's to the seat in front of me.. Then I heard him stir in his seat and I immediately looked up at him. I first thought I was to be reprimanded, told to "Sit still for Christ sake!" or a stern "Quit Down!".
 A moment passed I saw daddy wore the expression I adored and have come to mirror perfectly. 
The mischievous grin of "Fun is on it's way" we would occasionally share.
 Eyes slightly squinted, an eyebrow raised askance half a smile with no teeth. 
I loved that look so much. 
Then he leaned down to his right, within whispering distance and simply said in raspy whisper (think Tom Waits circa 1999) with one eyebrow up and a half smile, 
"Wanna get the hell outta here?" 
I nodded vigorously looking up at his hazel eyes. 
Bearing all my pearly whites (as he called them). 
I'm sure I was beaming Aurora Borealis.

Then we contentedly and selfishly stood and strutted past all the pretentious wanks seated in our row. Hand in hand. 
On to the next adventure. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the entire evening with burgers and fries for two.
 Budweiser's for daddy and "Virgin Shirley Temples" for the birthday girl. 
Deep heart clenching laughter, Kicking and swinging my shitty Mary Jane's even higher now. 
Both us happy and being ourselves in our comfort zone. 
My father was flawed but god damn, was he funny mother fucker. 
A masterful story teller. 
He had been compared to George Carlin more times then I could possibly count. 
He could get a full bar with their women and the bar tender enraptured in his sardonic satire. 
The drunken assembly pounding fists on the bar, saluting their depleting glass bottles in the air. 
His humor was also nonverbal, much like Robin Williams. 
So, depending on how drunk daddy would get, it would be one variation or the other. 
Usually a combination. 
Joy and rapture, not what he paid for but what I felt.  
That was the real gift after all that, what I felt on my eleventh birthday .
Far away from the rigid controlled movements and absurd attire of aggrandized robots. 
Up on on a stage in the distance I couldn't even see even I wanted to.

Mary Catherine, Cowardice Queen

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