I'm sitting here listening to a wonderful song bird sing a sweet song. And I'm very pained right now. I had a rather ugly row with my father last night and just knew I was going to feel like hell when I woke up.
Which makes the joy of yesterday all the more poignant and today all the more painful. It's amazing how families and all their drama can reach across oceans and time and space and just generally muck up a good mood.
You know, while I am ruminating on the subject, I guess I'll post some notes from my travel journal I was writing three days ago, as they address the topic du jour:
"I never realized how much of a personal obligation I felt, a duty, perhaps, to stay in San Antonio until I moved to Austin in September of 2007. A very deep bond exists between my father and I, one I've always intuitively known, but never realized how much it shaped my own choices in life. A bond in many ways that held me back from living to the fullest. Sure, I left home in 1991 to attend the University of Houston and then in 1994 to teach in South Korea for a year. But what do any of us really know about life at 21 or 24? I always thought I was precocious for my age when it came to self-knowledge, but lord, how deluded I was. How many chances and opportunities did I miss because I felt obligated to remain in a city that made me deeply unhappy? (As a side note, I finally determined never to return after the whole Kenneth Foster affair. Life-long friendships torn apart and at that point I knew it was only a matter of time until I left, for good.)
"My father, a good father I hasten to add, one of the kindest, most self-sacrificing of parents I've ever known, always encouraged me to follow my bliss. And I know in my heart he meant it. But I couldn't overcome my sense of obligation. Not until late 2007, that is. And then even more so before I left for Singapore--an opportunity I was damned if I would miss and one that has led me here, where I am sitting right now. One fact that made this easier was my eldest sister's marriage and subsequent children and business partnership with my father.
"I asked Vanna (her name), before I left, if she would assume the obligation I felt towards my father, to be there for him, to replace me, in a sense, as his best friend, as I knew my leaving would hurt my father very much. Her words were priceless. She said, 'go, be happy, live your dreams, I'm not going anywhere.'"
To them, my family, as much as I love them, and as much as they say they support me in whatever it is I am doing out here there is an unspoken element of anger, and well, abandonment. Eldest sons, in whatever country you live in are supposed to stick around. They are supposed to take care of the family. And me, well, I just don't fit that mold. Am I selfish? That wouldn't be far off the mark. I'm not an angel. And I have my part in all of this. But after 38 years of trying to be the 'good son' I've given up on meeting those expectations. I'm taking a pass.
And yet, here I sit, amidst all this stunning beauty, sad.
And that's alright. As Pico Ayer has written, "Epiphanies, after all, are the easy part--it's the acceptance of the everyday that comes hard."