my son is turning away from me. has turned, i guess. this has been going on for some time now. it’s really kind of done.
if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, this is the same son i used to carry around Prospect Park in a baby backpack, when i dictated the Green Street Hooligans screenplay, back in 2002. his name is owen. he’s 14 now. he just started his freshman year of high school.
when i say he’s turning away from me, it may sound a bit more dramatic than i mean it to. he hasn’t turned against me. (yet.) i’m just talking about his physical posture. he doesn’t face me anymore when we sit with each other. he sort of corkscrews away. most of the time he’s in his phone. but even when he isn’t, he’s kind of points himself towards two o’clock, eyes averted. when we hug now, i get the bone of his shoulder.
i’ve been wondering lately if this is such a bad thing.
i’ve spent much of the last year separating from my own father. i’m 45 years old. this is, to be sure, a tad late to be turning away from one’s own father. i know this. my shrink knows this, chapter and verse, the poor woman. i love my father very much, but it has been a long overdue effort on my part to forcibly generate a bit of psychological distance from the old man: to see myself more as myself than as a subset of him.
i executed my turning away with a single symbolic action. I rented a ski house for my family - for me, my wife and our three kids - last christmas break, instead of schlepping them up to my parents’ ski house, which we’ve done every year since I was a kid. my parents' ski house had been the only christmas break i had ever known.
then one day last november, i stood on a soccer field with my parents and told them that I wasn’t going to stay at their ski house anymore. i was going to rent my own place, like a big boy. it was important to me, i told them, to feel like the man of the house, and to make my wife feel like the woman of the house.
my parents nodded. they didn’t protest. they even said they were proud of me.
i feel like owen is turning away from me well ahead of my timetable.
i wonder if it’s because i don’t have as much money as my father. maybe it’s just as darwinian as that. this farm hurr ain’t got nurr ‘nuff chickens; mebbe g’wan find me ‘nuther.
then again, maybe that's just me projecting my own bullshit onto owen. after all, what do *i* remember from ninth grade, when i was in his shoes? it isn’t what i was turning away from. it was what i was turning towards - towards girls, towards baseball, towards my newly-coalescing group of friends.
owen’s crew is coming together nicely, right on time. and i suppose it does make more sense that his behavior isn’t fueled by a desire to push away from me. i suppose it makes more sense that he’s motivated by what he's chasing: the pull-towards, the leap out, into the extending evening, the coming of the night.
as he runs off, his crew waiting for him, he's not thinking about what he's no longer feeling - a sense of his past, the warmth of our home. he's just feeling the cool bite of freedom.
he's aware of me only when i insist on being heard - when i shout my old-mannisms into his running-away.
did he hear me? he can totally hear me. i can hear him, and he's not even yelling. like i am. i am grampa fucking simpson right now.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MONEY?
DO YOU EVEN HAVE SHOES?
invariably, he does not have money. or shoes.
he wants to be broke. he wants to fall.
he wants to taste blood in his mouth that is of his own making, so much younger than i did.
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