We tend to forget whole sagas of ourselves. Either they get pushed away, or there is an ever so subtle change in focus and they drift, leaving behind some residue of opinion on the matter. Then one day, in a sudden, inescapable, and inconvenient moment...
Pulling up to the house of the sector Feast, it is early evening and the sunlight has faded just enough that the rich colors of this quaint Albuquerque neighborhood can challenge the tyranny of the dominant sunlight. Looking towards the door of the house, a small Indian lady with a warm smile is greeting people at the door. Planning to return the smile, I find her vaguely familiar, too vague and too familiar for comfort. Hmm, The moment has passed. I greeted her, but my thoughts were distant and my expression was probably blank. I walk in to a crowd full of people, some familiar, some vague...
Some people just give you an instant impression. As I look outside through the sliding glass door, I see what should be a normal middle aged man moving a chair and doing other normal things. But part of me knows that there is some issue with him, he seems to be avoiding the crowd. I can definetely relate to the social anxiety. There is something about his posture that...
Oh my God! Wait, could it be...(sigh) it is. And that was his mom. Oh my God, this can't be real. That has to be him.
I have been asked to read a prayer, but I am frozen. From the corner of my eye, I see him standing in the back as I start reading. Words evaporate out of the moment as I seem to be speaking them. Other prayers are said as a flood of emotions swirl, anger, sadness...I miss my mom. I want to give her comfort as her part of me faces this symbol of abandonment that is knocking down my doors. I am frozen. A long winded story is now being told about who the hell knows what...
The choices are clear, I can either avoid him by striking up a conversation with that person over there, or...okay lets do that.
Me: Hi, how are you
Me: I know I have met you before...
Hmm, that probably seemed a little over eager. Lets try him, we have known each other for a while, this might have potential.
Or not. He Just turned away, okay, well I can't just stand in this living room and hide out. Screw it. I am going to face this thing head on.
Me: Hi Chris.
Chris: Uh, your Jason right?
Me: Yeah, how are you doing.
Wow, I am surprised by how warm my greeting was to him. I don't know if I really meant it or not.
Chris: I am doing well, wow, you've grown quite a bit.
Me: Are you, where are you living at? Do you live here in Albuquerque?
Chris: No I am living in Tuscon now, I just came to help my mom make her move up to Taos, She is the Indian lady outside.
I know that. she is the one who treated my mom like she was an inconvenience, an unworthy bride for her son. she was the one who tore you away from her...
Chris: We were here for the Gathering of Nations.
I remember once that she gave me a single marble for my 12th birthday present. I had hundreds of marbles already; one more was like a drop in the bucket. I remember that I had to put on a smiling face and feign excitement.
Me: Cool. Wow, Its nice seeing you guys here. What has it been, like 10 years?
Chris: Something like that, yeah.
Me: What are you up to these days?
I feel like we are two adults, with some mixed history, catching up on old times. This is definitely a change from the sorta fatherish sonish relationship before...
Okay, concentrate. He is saying something about working for a machining company, that he helped to grow it and then he trained people who became his replacements. I am not totally sure, just keep eye contact.
Me: Man, that's really messed up, so you help him develop the company, and then when you ask for more money, they replace you with the people you trained?
Why am I just repeating what I thought he just said? Maybe to let him know that I am paying close attention? I am starting to get nervous now.
Chris: Yeah man, but the experience was good. I want to get back to making jewelery full time. So what have you been up to?
Me: Well, um, I have been going to school for quite a while, I am actually getting ready to defend my thesis sometime in July."
Chris: what is your degree in?
Me: Well my focus has been in geographic information science, which is in the department of geography.
I have practiced how to present my studies to people. I used to just say geography, but people hearken back to their 5th grade days and assume that I spend sleepless nights memorizing capitals. That's pretty much what I thought until I found out about GIS.
Chris: What kinds of jobs are out there for that.
Another frequently asked question. My ego has learned to just assume that they are ignorant for not knowing that this is a fascinating and prospective field.
Chris: Is it mainly for the government?
Me: There's really a lot that can be done. Yeah, for the government but also the private sector. Um, I just interviewed with a company that does modeling for homeland security, they create probability scenarios, they essentially model all the different ways that certain key sites, like uh, you know military and also some political, are vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Phew, that was convoluted, I am really starting to get nervous now, I know that he can see it too. I am wondering if he is proud of me. He looks a little bit nervous also. He is probably wondering what I am thinking about him, about this encounter. So far I haven't betrayed any hard feelings, I think.
Me: There are also a lot of jobs for environmental organizations, doing environment modeling, and compliance. Also with urban planning, disaster relief, stuff like that.
Chris: Wow, that's really cool. I always knew that you were smart.
Me: Yeah well..
Chris: Are you married?
Me: Yeah, that's my wife right over there. In the pink shirt talking to that lady.
Chris: Oh wow. That's really cool...well it looks like you have grown up to be a fine young man.
Me: Well, I don't know, we'll have to see about that.
A part of me hates when people make judgments about me after only a brief acquaintance or re-acquaintance, even when they are positive judgments. It is always based upon a superficial assessment of how I'm dressed maybe, the fact that I am married, the fact that I am getting a master's degree. These "stats" seem to suggest that I am a fine and wholesome young man, yet reality is always more mixed. I still have my issues, similar ones that I had before the "stats".
Nevertheless, a coating of ice is melting from my heart. He is truly happy to see me, and is truly impressed with how I have turned out. I can remember now what I loved so much about him. He was fun. He coached my Jr high basketball team, he collected sports cards, we went hiking, fishing, camping. He was often caring and mindful of what the family needed, he was industrious around the house, he was truly loving. Most of the time.
The last time I had seen him, he was barnstorming through the house, with that bandanna he wore when he was callous. His mom had wanted him to move back with her to Arizona; we were in Oregon. There had been fights, my mom had said some things that were harsh. Then out of the blue, when we were both gone, he had left. Only a note.
And that's how I had remembered him. Selfish, aggressive, somebody who had abandoned my mom. There had been no closure. Everything that I had loved about him had been inaccessible until now. A hidden saga of wonderful memories had been tainted and locked up. As I look at him now, I love him, and I know that he loves me, and I know that he knows that I love him.
Chris: And how is your mom?
I knew this would come up sooner or later.
Me: She's doing good. Yeah, she's going to school right now, studying electrical engineering.
Chris: Wow, that is a change...So is she still married to that guy, what's his name McGettigan?
Me: Yeah, it's going well, they are doing well.
Wow, that this is surreal. But nice, we are both smiling, just need to keep up the good feelings.
Me: This is my wife, Sjona.
Sjona: Hi, how are you doing.
Chris: Hi, I'm Chris.
Me: I knew him a long time back, we haven't seen each other for like 10 years.
Okay, I'll tell her who he is later
Chris: Yeah, I haven't seen this guy for a long time, I was actually married to his mom.
Sjona: Oh, ok. Wow that's cool that you guys have met up again.
Chris: You have found yourself a good catch. He was always really smart, and he had a lot of friends.
Well, actually, I didn't really have any friends most of the time we were both in Oregon. My weekends were spent alone, looking out the windows into the eternally gray Oregon skies. Oh well.
Chris: I remember that we would go riding our bikes along the beach. Do you remember that?
Me: Yeah yeah, that was fun.
I remember the beach, but I don't actually remember the bikes...
Me: I hope that your business idea works out. That would be really cool if you could go to Hawaii and do that.
Chris: Yeah, who knows, you know, I have a dream at least. Only God really knows what we are doing. I now know the reason I came here tonight, it was to see you again.
Me: Yeah, same here. It's funny, I wasn't actually wanting to come tonight, I, well I knew that I needed to come.
(phone numbers are exchanged. We hug and then we leave)
As I think about him now, I can finally understand that we are both human and we have both made mistakes. Many of my fondest memories involve him. He is like my brother. It didn't work out between him and my mom...
And that's okay.