As I sat in session letting my mind wander back, year after year, I was so stuck by the dull gray expanse of nothingness. Nada. within that are bits and pieces, ribbons of moments captured in time. Incomplete. a sound, a smell, an image. Rarely combined together to form a complete cohesive unit. They are fractured, and fragile. I often sense them skitter away into the gray as I concentrate to capture their essence. I’m left grasping at nothing but a hint of what I was tracking. When it comes to my childhood there is so little there. I can’t really comprehend where 100,000+ minutes got lost along the way. It isn’t the ECT or the meds. It is how I have always been. Maybe a bit hazier now. I can capture fleeting moments in time, and piece them back into my childhood by the house, or the yard. Maybe a tree, or pool. Something stands out to allow me to place it. When I think about my time with my parents, as Beatrice was asking, I just need to let my mind go. It may crash against the shards of that greyness, but eventually it settles and I may catch a memory to chase. So when a memory is complete in my mind I usually pay it some heed. Why did that one weather the years, and the oblivion? Why? Just a few.
The wallpaper is blue and white. Something fine, not dots, maybe flowers? tiny little blue flowers on a white or cream background? There a perfect balloon valances, blue to match the wallpaper. There is a staircase. I can see all off it so clearly. The room is completely bare. Not a toy, or book in sight. The shelves are empty. The feeling attached to this image is loss. There is an emptiness. In the middle of the room is a trunk. I know everything I love to play with and read is locked in that trunk. I don’t see the anger, or the punishment itself, but I do sense it. It completes the emptiness. Though I know not what I did wrong, I know everything is in the trunk because I angered my mother. It was a standard issue punishment if she was pushed too far. (based on house, and room I was prob between 5 and 7)
Fear is vivid and crisp. Pinging off the walls and furniture. Everything is bright, crisp and harsh. Hard edged. Modern. Running hard and out of breath. trying to make it to my room, and being chased. Know I’m going to get a belt. It is a memory mainly vivid for its intense fear associated with it. Got back from school and was in trouble for something. She was coming, and the punishment was inevitable. (based on the house, figuring on almost 8)
I don’t have that fear with my dad. The memories are more indistinct, and fuzzy, but they are warm. The earliest ones are good. I don’t get any inklings of fear, dread or anger. It changes later as I grew up and got obnoxious and pissed as a teenager. Then it was a war. But before the war, before everything came so completely undone, we were so very close. I understand why the plane crash the other morning sent my head in a very strange direction. I disconnected so completely, but not in a typical way for me. It was more of a departure to a detached place where I could wander amongst the memories. The long days spent on boats, the world over, in pursuit of the next catch. It was his passion. His greatest joy. I was his side kick. It was an adventure, always. As a youngster he took me up to Shoals Marine laboratory (off of Maine/ New Hampshire). A place where science meets the sea. They study tide pools, and migrating birds. It is by far one of my happiest memories from my childhood. Standing in shallow water hunting for specimens. I was a little scientist there. Just like all these adults with their jars, and nets. My potential was limitless. There was nothing but joy in the hunt. There was no horror, no loss, no fighting and no fear. I can’t figure out how old I was. It was just us, so figuring somewhere between 8 and 13, though there is always the possibility that it was earlier, on a vacation.
Crystal clear water. More fish than we can possibly catch. I remember my arms aching from the tuna. Tunas are an interesting fish. They bite hard, but unlike a lot of sport fish you can hook onto, they don’t run and fight. They tend to drop like a ton of bricks seeking the bottom. Makes for a long drawn out fight, with the big ones. We hooked so many that trip. God, fishing actually bordered on boring. I remember watching the captain cut up a tuna so fresh it was deep dark mahogany fleshed. Somehow dad tracked down a japanese tourist with wasabi. Sashimi doesn;t come close when you eat it like that. He was so happy that day. Boastfully sharing his catch with a roomful of strangers. He was always one to share his catch. I remember him dragging along bluefish to one of my therapy sessions. Thumping down that carpeted hallway to Emily’s office with 30lbs of oily nasty bluefish in glad bags. The thought of it makes me smile. there was nothing too ridiculous for him. He shied away from nothing, and cared not what anyone thought of him. That same trip with the tuna, we set out for yet another day of fishing. I was getting a bit tired of it, and was mouthy. Fishing is a lot of sitting and waiting, all for that rush when the lines ZZZZZZZZZZIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP. The zing as the fish bites and runs, the line racing out of the spool fast as that fish is fleeing. ZZZZZZZZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…. It is breathtaking. It is the moment when your heart is pounding as you shake off the sleepiness from hours spent drifting at sea, or trawling while listening to the steady chug of the diesel engines. It is an amazing moment. Unsteadily everyone finds their sea legs and charge hard at that rod, or rods to set the hook and get down to the battle at hand. On that trip we were headed back to the dock after a very long day at sea. Often those days started before the sun rose over the horizon. Not being a morning person, they were especially hard for me. Not him. He rises before the corners of the world start to pale before dawn. I was exhausted after many days at sea. We had caught so many fish, it bordered on unreal. I could have cared less if another fish hit those lines. But he was always on the hunt. We always trawled back to dock, never pulled the lines and called it a day. That afternoon, in the haze of the late day Costa Rican sun, the lines all started. I think we were all pretty much cooked, and it took a moment to realize four fish were on. The zip of the unreeling line had us all clamouring. I grabbed the rod nearest me, and even with my little frame, did as I was always taught, bend your knees lean back give the rod a stiff pull and set the hook hard. It was second nature. As I looked around I saw that the captain, his mate and my father all had a rod and a fish on. I knew I had a good sized fish. My heart was jackhammering away. I was awash in pure adrenaline. The sleepy mouthy pain in the ass was gone in an instant. The logistics of fighting 4 fish off a small vessel is a nightmare. You cross your lines, bam, no fish. So we did the dance, we did countless times before. Seamless. The mate lost his fish. He was reeling fast as his arms would let him to get that extra wasted line out of the water. Minutes ticked off. We had settled into the rhythm of fighting the fish. It is an art really. Taking up the slack quickly, after each successive pull on the rod. Not too hard, or too meek. It is after all a fight. It is about burning arm and back muscles. It is about the steady feel to that fish, the concentration never ever wavering. It is in that moment that you lose them. Not long after the mate, the captain lost his fish. It left my dad and I. You could not have written a better fish tale. And so we fought in the hot sun. As the fish finally came close to the surface we saw the pink of their scales. We knew while fighting that they were not tuna, or roosterfish, or any of the other likely suspects. They were different. That afternoon we landed two magnificent Red snappers. An amazing fish. Beautiful and very much in demand for their delicate meat. I wish more than anything I knew where the photo was from that afternoon. Maybe I will find it amongst his things someday. All told, I landed a 38lb fish, and he a 56 pounder. They sold before we got back to the dock. But what a sight they were hung up at the dock. Back when he was younger he landed a 500lb tuna off of NJ. He had an old floppy fishing hat. Tattered and worn from far too many days at sea. On that hat was a pin from the state of NJ for landing that fish. On one of our trips it blew off into the pacific, lost to the depths. It was one of the few times I had ever seen him upset. But I will never forget our day with the red snappers in the pristine azul waters of central america.
I could go on, I could regale you with stories of fish, and weather, but it was our connection that I find so hard to put words on. I loved him so deeply, and completely. For such a complicated man our relationship was simple then. If only it could have remained that way.