608 S 2nd Ave
I was outside a lot as a child. All the time, actually. Being inside made me feel sick usually. My dad was always watching something on the TV and would yell at me if I tried to play piano or talk to him. And my mother was always working on one of those tilted glass deals with the light inside so you can sketch perfectly over cartoon stills. She was an animator. She told me my dad worked as a banker once, but hated his job so he quit. He also worked for The Beach Boys, but they fired him. He had an issue with eating food. He couldn’t stop doing it. So much so that he basically killed himself, with food. My mom was always too busy working to support my father’s laziness and my six older siblings and I. So I was always outside to entertain myself.
We had a gargantuan backyard. I mean it was a 80's kid wet dream of what a backyard would be. There were trees everywhere. In the middle there were these two huge trees. A fig tree near the right front. A massive oak tree in the middle with a swing one of my older siblings assembled and more trees. And an avocado tree in the way back. It never produced any avocados that ripened all the way so the squirrels kept to eating them for us.
We had 2 large orange trees in the front yard area. That was covered by a old tall wood fence. There were two rooms that us kids slept in and both had sliding glass doors that opened to the front patio that led to those orange trees.
When I was real young I have a memory of always climbing the chimney onto the roof of our house. I’d sit there for hours just bored out of my skull. Lonely. Bored. Hungry. Isolated. Under fed. Emotionally dry. Scared to be inside.
There was also a back shed where my dad stored a bunch of mystical collectors items. It was always locked, but it had a doggy door so we would always sneak in and play with stuff in there. At the time, I thought it was boredom and curiosity that led me into that magestic room of treasure, but I think In retrospect I wanted to be near anything that my dad had showed a affection/protection for. Because that’s not a emotion that I ever felt with him. And I was jealous.
One time I wanted to paint really bad. I asked my mom if I could paint the cement wall in our backyard. She yelled at me and said no. And handed me a paintbrush and water. I didn’t understand why she would encourage me to paint something that would fade away.
I have 3 sisters and 3 brothers. We are all from the same two parents. The story goes that they met because my dad was on a date with my mom's sister (My Aunt Tony) He saw a photo of my mother and asked My Aunt who that was
Oh, that’s my little sister, Ruthie.
I don’t know how they ended up dating, but my Aunt Tony had a real dislike for my father.
My mom read palms and did handwriting analysis. My dad read auras.
And somehow my mom and him ended up dating for 2 months, got married and had us 7 kids.
I only have a handful of good memories of my dad:
One time, he let me stay up late one night when I was very sick. He let me have some sprite. We watched E.T. I felt ok that night around him.
He took me to the Huntington library once, he let me skip school, didn’t tell my mom. He bought me lunch. It was just him and I. We sat at a bench for a little while quietly. I still go to that bench, once a year. Around his birthday, every November. I usually sit and talk to him, tell him about my life.
He took me to the a Nestle convention once. I remember eating a lot of chocolate and I think I wanted a toy, but didn’t get it.
I have one last memory, but it’s from a old video tape from Christmas. My sister Annie and I had gotten Barbies. My dad was filming us. I am brushing my barbies hair and yell
Where’s my lipstick?!
And you can hear my dad laughing at what I had said.
The affection and love in his laugh made me feel so good as a child. I would replay that one section over and over again as a kid. Just to hear him laughing so lovingly at me.
The winds are blowing hard tonight in Los Angeles. My beautiful daughter is asleep. Dreaming about whatever things she saw in yesterday’s passing.
I had a shitty father, but he was my father.
And for that, I thank him for being apart of bringing me into this world, that I can have my experience and give my child a life of love, affection, laughter and everything he couldn’t give me. Everything he couldn’t teach me, I teach her. I will not raise my child perfectly. As this isn’t something that any parent ever does (while aspiring to do so) I will love her, protect her and navigate her through this playground we live called life to the best of my abilities. And I pray to whatever is holy when I’m old and grey, that she will still hold my hand, turn to me and say:
You’re the best mom, ever.