This weekend delivered both the good and the challenging. The good was one of my tweets was featured in the Huffington Post and Esquire. Donald Trump Jr. posted a selfie while wearing a green t-shirt that says “VERY FAKE NEWS,” The websites posted articles highlighting photoshopped versions of the image, including my effort. Since I write this blog under a pen-name, you’ll have to guess which tweet is mine.
I may end the pen-name business. Though my family knows I blog, they’ve never expressed interest in it. I think my family perceive the Internet as “part of my problem.” My ex-wife believed one of the biggest factors in the collapse of our marriage was my unemployment. Thusly, anything bolstering my sense of self, short of finding gainful employment, merely aggravated what was broken.
I am fairly confident that attitude infected our daughters. Yesterday, when I saw my tweet was featured in Esquire, I texted my oldest daughter with the news. She hasn’t replied. I hoped she might respond, though I’m not surprised she hasn’t. Her silence reminds me how far I have to go to build authentic relationships with my daughters.
It is difficult to reconcile how wide this gulf is between me and them, while knowing, for the most part, I was a good father. I took active interests in their lives. I was supportive. I cooked dinner almost every night. My wife and I had a deal, I went to work as early as I wanted and got home in time to make dinner. She got them off to school and most of the time made it home in time to sit down for our evening repasts. I feel like I get no credit whatsoever for the work I put in, even if things went south between their mother and me.
Yesterday was Easter lunch at my sister-in-law’s house. My ex was there. Both her sisters and their families. Two of her three brothers and their families. Father-in-law. A zoo. My Brooklyn-based daughter arrived on Friday for the weekend. She made no attempt to contact me. Based on my resolution at Christmas, I did nothing to guilt her into seeing me. No “hey, whatcha doing for dinner, for lunch, for breakfast…” texts. I’d rather not see her authentically than see her because she feels it is her duty. Lunch, it was awkward, reminding me how far we have to go.
In Emma Cline’s The Girls, the author describes the protagonist’s distance from her recently divorced father. “I had spoken to my father a few times on the phone. It had seemed painful for him too. He’d asked me oddly formal questions, like a distant uncle who only knew me as a series of second-hand facts.”
My reaction was, “Oh. Yeah. Um, uh huh. Exactly.”
Last thought I’m pondering. This morning I began walking to my regular coffee shop. I envisioned telling the two or three people with whom I’ve become quite friendly about my tweeting success and basking in their congratulations. Then I decided “no.” Instead I headed to Georgetown and Grace Street Coffee where no one knows my name.
I think I forgot to remember the import of compassion toward myself. It turns out holidays are hard. Who knew?
Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.
P.S. Yeah, I know. This barely connects to the post. Ms. Hepburn is drinking coffee so there!