I just rescued blogs I was going to leave on the sinking ship of a dying blog, a blog I created with an anonymous ID as a means of refuge and release. They are now stored away in a Word document, tucked away in a laptop folder I hope no one sees. The emotions, feelings, stories that I created for that blog were never intended for anyone who knows me. When my WP blog came into being, I combined the ID from my “safe” blog (shenry) with the ID from my “risk” blog (frank mann) in the hope that this blog would be one where two sides of me would no longer be necessary. I need to take risks if I am going to enjoy my writing. So, some of those stories, almost all of which contain some feeling or struggle I was feeling at the time it was written, are going to make it here.
It’s a risk because it’s important for me to show my faith in God. Some of my writings deal with that struggle in a way that shows I may not be winning the battle. A lot of my writings deal with the real frustrations of a husband and father, not the prettiest or gratifying read many times.
Here’s an example of a story I wrote from that “risk” blog, one that dealt with one issue by starting a story as I thought my daughter might describe me after discovering my journals after I die. Choosing this one to share in this blog is a bit of a cop out, but it’s a start:
His mouth turned down on one side, eyebrow raised. As usual he had no idea of the odd expression he was demonstrating, his demeanor both puzzled and angry in a way only father could be. We all, even mother, watched him as we wondered what would come next. Quite often the expressions came and went with little or no revelation – not an outburst or even a word – father’s world inside his head refused to come out. There were times where we wondered if we were able to get close enough without distracting him if we would be able to peer through his pupils into whatever was going on behind them, but father always caught us when we tried. We tried to anticipate what was setting off his internal adventure but rarely did he give us a clue. Mother hated it, said she never really knew what went on in his head, lamented that he never let her in. Father paid her no mind, simply replying “nothing, nothing at all” her when she asked what he was thinking. His world was his own.
It wasn’t that father held his emotions tight to his chest. If anything he was exactly the opposite of that, every emotion he felt painted on his face, an attribute we almost always found amusing unless his face was turning to anger, an explosiveness none of us cared to see. Thankfully we knew the warning signs, knew that father’s emotions tended to lag behind his expression, and we were able to clear the area before he blew. Father was not one of those men who fought his emotions, a sad movie or a moving passage in a book always showed first in his eyes and progressed across his face. Brother loved to watch father as we watched the chick flicks I subjected them to, a tear forming at the corner of his eyes as the girl got her man or when Gilbert was once again shunned by Anne. Equally awesome was the roar of laughter he provided any time he was amused, which was often, an immediate burst followed by a staccato of guffaws. Father was never one to resist his emotions, felt deeply in a way that betrayed his often stoic exterior, an enigma of a man who loved to express himself yet seemed reluctant to completely let it all out, the resulting overflow pouring out of his face as if they needed to exist outside of his head.
Plenty stayed inside. We saw that when his eyes crinkled and father left us for his moments in his own little world, a smile or a frown creasing his face. I learned not to ask him what he was thinking. Mother never did. She never left him alone with his thoughts, always insulted when he was unable to answer her when she insisted that he tell her what was going on behind his expression.
“You’re thinking something. What were you smiling about?”
“I was smiling?” An even larger grin grew from the frown that had met the question.
There was a time, I think, when father was able to share with mother what existed behind those expressions of his. His soul wanted out too much for that not to happen. Mother lived in a world of black and white, a stark contrast to the world I know existed inside my father, and when those worlds collided it became a war. She never accepted his world, criticized it as abnormal and strange, foreign to her sensibilities. There was a reason why his world had retreated to a place between his ears, forever showing us through his eyes that it existed.
I wonder if mother knew about the notebooks in front of me. We did not. As I read them, I feel the freedom that pen gave to his soul. Absolute. My father and the man I never knew.