I'm doing more things for myself, more things I used to put off indefinitely. It started with your passing, really. I don't know if you know how much of a gift to me motorcycling was. I have to feel like you knew, or at least hoped, sort of, when you left me your motorcycle. Can you believe I still haven't gotten it running? Yeah, I can, too. There's just never enough money, is there? But now I'm playing drums again, too. I say again, but I never really did much with it in school. I was too afraid. Afraid to mess up, or to not be perfect at it right away. It's tough when you're "talented" to learn that hard work is actually much more important. That fear of failure is a prison rather than a motivation. You probably knew some of that from your own childhood, even if you never figured out how to put it into words (or how important it was to me to hear it while I was young enough to still be considered "precocious"). You always tried to challenge me, to make me work harder, but you weren't always there. Sorry, but facts are fact and let's not mince words. Life is too short to dance around the truth. I know you don't have that problem anymore, but I do. I don't think you'll have a problem respecting that.
Work's been hard to come by. Mom says it was worse in the 70s, I don't know if that's true. It certainly doesn't reflect what all the analysts are saying re: this being the worst it's been since the Great Depression. If it's true, I don't know how you folks made it. I've stopped asking people for advice, because I find it's mostly empty and unsatisfying. Not that you'd have anything more to say; I don't think people really know what to do right now, which is part of the source of the panic. Even though you disappeared for a bit, it was nice knowing you were there if I had a question I needed to ask. Like I know I wish that I'd ever gotten your take on your relationship with my mother. But I also know you were not a person to shy away from the hard questions. You didn't have a compulsive need to discuss them like I do, at least not that I ever noticed. But you'd listen when I did ask them, even when you didn't have the answers. Because with age and maturity, I've learned it's not about the answers. It's about the questions, yes, but about learning that others have the same questions. It's about learning how to ask, too. How to think about the things that others are too scared, lazy, or timid to ask. Questions we've been taught we don't deserve answers to (though again, it's not so much about the answers; just about being discouraged from asking).
It's odd being sort of detached from half of my origin. How much of who I am is me, and how much is either you or my mother? How much is stuff you shared in common when you first met her, stuff that drew you to each other? How much of my own internal conflicts are things you and my mother were never able to resolve? For example, I can only imagine how our kids will reconcile Becca's drive to be mainstream and accepted with my desire to be individual and iconoclastic. Oversimplification, but you know what I mean? And it's not like I never knew you; I don't mean to make it sound like that. I'm not trying to give you a hard time for leaving. That's over and done with. Again, it's just facts. But there are whole areas of you that are just opaque to me. I mean, obviously I'll never know how things were with you and my mother before I came along. How you decided to make a life together. But there's other stuff, too. I mean, you never talked about your father. My grandfather. I didn't get to hear about him till after you were dead. I understand, but I have to wonder what corridors of your life and your mind were closed to me. None of us can ever really know each other, I mean, how can we when we can't even know ourselves? That doesn't stop me from wondering.
But in another sense, it's freeing. I've had to step back from my mother a bit (not that we were ever that close; Dennis was always her boy and you and I were always best pals). But I've been liberating myself from both of you in the process of discovering me. Stripping away everything I ever was to find out what's left, and what's left is who I am. Or rather, who I want to be. I've lived my life on rails, never asking anything for myself but only trying to fulfill expectations. Now I can kind of step away from that and take an objective look. It's not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. All of my family remains a part of me and who I am, but I need to stop living for them. In a sense, it's a sort of purgatory or limbo. It's that moment of neutral when you shift gears. I'm going from the point of living for the past generation to the point where I'm living for the future generation; my kids, your grandkids. It feels like some big thing, this exhilarating moment of weightlessness before gravity kicks in, but that's really all it is. A moment. And it is exhilarating.
I just know that whatever I do, it won't be boring. And I think more than anything, that's something you'd be proud of. I've stopped waiting for my life to begin. Now I'm almost daring it to end before I've had a chance to do everything I want to do. Because I'm not waiting. I'm going to do everything I always wanted to, or die trying. You taught me the worthlessness of regret, and that I thank you for.