I grew up in a house where my parents came at life from two very different directions; there were two languages, two sets of values and two sets of skills for moving through the world. One example of this is language one parent loved words the other hated them. My mom has always professed to hate them, yet she uses some of the most dramatic and visceral language of anyone I know. My dad loved them, I believe partly because he loved to read, and he loved the sound and music of language. He spent a lot of time in his head and the life they drew for him was substantially richer than our quarter acre lot on Long Island and his days as an ironworker. He would have loved to been a toastmaster I think but alas he had the social skills of a red eared box turtle. To be fair the red eared is the most gregarious and social of the box turtle set.
I can remember trying to leave parties with my dad, he would stand on the porch, in the driveway, or on the walk and say good bye for an hour. The poor host and hostess were exhausted by the time we could get him in the car. He just could not read people; he had been raised by wolves. He was brilliant but only in a formal education and book smart way. My mom is more street smart, intuitive and has some people skills. She has brilliant business sense but not much advanced education which makes her doubt formable ability. Too bad that they hadn’t appreciated what the other brought to the party and bottom line they were both a couple of major nuts. If you have ever read any of my writing you know the Pearhater did not fall far from that tree.
My mother’s language options are as bold and action oriented as she is, it is never an “odor” it is a “stench”, not a “cut” but a “gash”. Even n her attempt to get us to choke down orange juice at breakfast before school was based on the cautionary tale of sailors who got scurvy. I was the only 2nd grader that knew not only what the cause of scurvy was, but also the symptoms and treatment for it. My dad on the other hand used language as tool, he drew it as a weapon when you disappointed him and when he deemed you worthy he anointed you. He was precise and lethal. I have high school memories of conversations around the dinner table about words such as mellifluous, foible and tintinnabulation. During those moments my mom was long gone from the table banging pots at the sink.
My parents were opposites in many other ways as well. He was adventuresome about food; he loved to try the exotic and new but was not a risk taker in life. My mother was a risk taker and adventuresome in life but hated to try new foods. She could and does eat the same thing day in and day out. He was more of a planner and fear based where she is a fly by the seat of your pants, liar liar pants on fire type of woman. There was some dove tailing in their relationship, some challenging of stance, vision and knowledge. I can’t say if it worked for them or not, that is not my call. I can say it was a chaotic existence for my siblings and me.
I can see where that jumbled, jagged mix of their parts is blended in me in many ways. My love of language, both for the exaggerated as well as the fine crafted appears. I see the blend to where I fall on the IQ, EQ scales and my squirrelly high sense of intuition. As to adventure I crave it in everything from food to life across the board. I have been called fearless; however I don’t think that is true. It would be more accurate to say I posses an insatiable curiosity, and I work around the fear. Fear is a limitation, I don’t play well with limits, they just piss me off. I love the adrenaline that comes from a new experience and a steep learning curve. These days I rarely care about looking foolish, not knowing the answer or being vulnerable; I only care about what is true, what is real, what is learned, and how it feels.
As I get older the feeling part of that equation has blossomed which has been a delightful surprise. I have immersed myself in sensations of life, the skin to skin, the slow evolution of a brilliant pinot on my tongue, laughing so hard my body sings, the wet sand between my toes with the sound of the waves crashing. The love of words is still there, the thrill of an adventure is there, but now the appreciation of what is in the moment has given them the depth and richness that failure brings to success.
I now understand my folks better as well. My mother was the one to teach me the value of a road trip; a puddle is meant to be jumped in and even better was a jump in the ocean with your clothes on because the opportunity presented itself. I learned to be open to what the moment offers and how to play, and play hard. These days I play like it’s my job. My dad taught me to let what is unfold in its own time, like a fine scotch, a good story, and human frailty, and that each of those warms with the touch. Don’t get me wrong the wealth of knowledge and skills I derived from them does not take them out of nutdom, but it has helped balance the darkness. Balance was not a skill they possessed it’s one I am cultivating, hence the sour patch kids between workouts yesterday. Really it’s all about finding the center spot the one filled with sweet, rich, gooey goodness and getting every last drop.