When I was in the 5th grade I won an essay contest for D.A.R.E. In the essay, I had to explain my pledge to stay away from drugs. I wrote something very cheesy and expectant for a typical elementary kid. You know, something really thought provoking like, “drugs are bad.”
I’m pretty sure my essay would have left that “Heaven is for Real” kid in the dust though… had our sentences been juxtaposed.
The essay wasn’t life changing, but I wrote it with passion. And it wasn’t because the DARE officer showed my formative brain horror videos of drunk drivers and families abandoned by victims of drug overdoses, but because I had already witnessed that in real life. When I look back on the essay, I realize it was a pledge to you. It was me promising I would never turn out like that, while somehow simultaneously begging you to come back. Today, I’m writing a new essay. Not in hopes that you’ll put down your habits (I mean, I do hope that too), but in an effort to say, I get it.
As a kid, you tend to have a lot of expectations for people, especially your parents. They’re basically your bread & butter, and when they screw up – it’s like watching the demolition of Jen and Brad Pitt in your very own living room.
My dad was my PIC. My main squeeze. The only person who understood my need to ride naked on a go cart through the woods while eating a chocolate ice cream cone.
When he fell off, it felt like a direct hit in the heart. I remember him going from being my fun-loving, wild hearted dad to being the stranger bashing through our kitchen window, stealing our television, and running down the gravel drive to freedom.
Back then I didn’t get it. Last year I didn’t get it.
But today I finally get it.
I get that you thought you lost us, and I understand not knowing how to deal with failing. It’s hard to not be where you thought you’d be in life. When you’re seven you dream about life at thirteen, when you’re thirteen you await the freedom you’ll have when you can finally drive, when you’re sixteen you fantasize about moving out and becoming an adult, and when you’re twenty one you imagine life as a successful, career oriented person. But sometimes there comes a point in life when you don’t know where you are or where you are supposed to be.
I think that’s where the habits come alive. That’s where running away becomes really intriguing.
I get lost like you, too.
Actually, the older I get, the more I realize I’m a lot like you. I’ve got your ice cream habit, your free spirit, that same intense fear of failing, and the constant urge to run away.
For a while, I wanted to use your being an asshole as an explanation of why I couldn’t succeed.
Now that I say it, I’ve wanted to blame you for a lot of things in life.
I wanted to blame you for my lack of trust, I wanted to blame you for making my life hard, I wanted to blame you for making me learn how to take care of myself, and I did blame you for making me miss the premier of Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
Now I feel like I have to say thanks. Losing you as my partner in crime gave me something I could have never gotten anywhere else. You gave me the desire to leave, and the strength to know I could make it on my own.
I know it isn’t the hero you wanted to be in my life, but you’ve been there for me by not being there… if that makes any sense at all.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, I’m good. We’re good.