Friday, December 2, 2011

reverb11: It Will Be Different

If you could choose one thing that your children experience in a different way than you have, what would it be?

When I was ten, I slept with a loud old wooden box fan at the head of my bed, pretending it was a rumbling old truck that, every night, kidnapped me, taking me far away from my father. It was a two-ton Reo, green, like the ones I saw across the road at the Army base. Miles away it took me as I slept, but when I woke, I was still there in that bed, in that house of pain. Morning brought the light and I could go outside, away from the house to ease the fear.

By the time I was 13, I could maneuver the night; a quick cat, in kid's clothes, scaling walls and trees in quiet escape. No matter how late at night, as soon as the front door knob clicked open, I was up and gone; in winter weather, I had a ready place inside the closet, beneath a blanket, knees to chin, quiet breath. Not my first choice, closets are inferior hideouts, there’s only one way out. Many nights, I crawled out the window and slept on the flat roof, safe above the ground. There were too many other nights that I had to run to the field beside the Boys’ Club, within a copse of trees, away from cruising police cars, waiting, waiting for dawn to bring light to my world. I could not sleep out there; there might be monsters, but they were less dangerous than my father when he came home drunk, angry, and looking for a fight.

I still sleep with a fan beside my bed, a habit now, but necessary to sleep at all. The slightest noise wakes me and I do a check around the house. My family is sound in sleep, and I will sit for a moment, listening to a child’s breath; a child asleep in a dream with no trucks; simply sleep as it should be; so very different than mine. It’s not much, but it’s everything I wish for them.



  1. it's not much? no. it is everything. it is the gift my father gave to me - that, and keeping me away from the monster he knew.

    your children will know this when they are grown up - perhaps they understand know. and they will thank you.

    it is everything.

  2. I should say tragic, but beautifully written and the last couple of lines are gorgeous.

  3. Stark and stunning, and so eloquently told.

  4. I echo Mark's sentiments: Stunning, and stunningly said.

  5. brought me to tears, peaceful sleep, a safe home, the world.

  6. wow. you share this with the stark honesty of a child. it's very moving, very compelling.

  7. this just broke my heart wide open.

    my mother has stories like this, and she managed to do what you are doing for your children, for us. creating a safe, loving environment for them to grow up in is the very best thing you can do.

    i always tell my mom that i am so proud and amazed and impressed by the way she came through it all, not unscathed, but strong enough to create a different life.

    i'm saying that to you now, as well

  8. It's amazing what burdens we carry into the night with us and the others we are able to leave behind. I am so grateful that I know you.

  9. i remember the same fear...the kind that makes your breath still and quiet in waiting...
    you are brave to share it here. brave and wonderful.

  10. Wow! I enjoyed reading this post.

    Here's mine for today:

  11. It is something to have a drunk for a father, isn't it. It changes everything about how you grow and how your world does too. I know well, what this is about, and I know well too, what it is you want that is different. Peace, brother.

  12. This was a very deep look into your childhood. While you clearly went through very troubling times, I see that you've come out the other side a strong man. Thank you for sharing this.


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