Friday, June 1, 2012

on becoming a writer~

Ever since I can remember, I was a writer. First and foremost, it's the only natural talent I have. Of course, I had to learn to read and write before I realized this. But it was the only thing that came naturally to me. I didn't have to try hard at it; to understand the beauty of all those swirling and tilting vowels and consonants pushing and pulling together in our consistently confusing language. But when I did try hard at it, I could make the words on a page even dance for others. Being a writer made sense to me (as lost as I was when it came to the rules of math) and writing was a great comfort to me. I soaked up stories like a long drink, thirsty for the words within as a world to escape to in moments.
But I'm a nervous writer. As I am about many things I do, but I still do them: writing, cooking, baking, photography, studying language. The deeper things: searching for meaning in this messy world, being in a longterm relationship, raising a family. And I'm not always good at things, but the only sign of a failed life is one in which you sell yourself short, as spoken so eloquently by a new friend. So I continue on, as I always have, competing with no one but myself, leaving behind those and that which I've noticed dangerously inhibits my breathing. This is also known as anxiety. 

I first realized my birthfather was a published writer when I did that crazy search way back of him after learning his name. And there was his curriculum vitae out there for all to see. Little did he know that I'd ever see it. Little did he know that of the many people who've read it, I am the one soaking it up like ink on paper. Little did he know that while many may be impressed with his authorship, I am the one who most craves to read his work. 
So I ordered his book. It's out of print; a political research piece with a qualifying, psychological twist. I realized after staring at it on Amazon for the last several months, there was only one used copy for $10 and all of the others after that were over $40. I realized the former one was mine. 
When I received it, MAC and I stood there in the kitchen just staring at it. As if opening it would open up the past and he might speak. He did, in a sense. He dedicated it to his father, a man I've been told many things about, none of them in that warm dedication. In his acknowledgements, he declares deep, true love for his wife, loyal from so many miles away. He thanks his entire family for their "unfailing love and encouragement in good times and bad" and his mother, for her "boundless love and belief" in him. 
These are big statements. Statements I know nothing about, am not a part of, and yet am so close to because I was the one who delayed his work for a time. His very important work of finishing college and getting a PhD and writing this book about how much Saddam Hussein's personality played into his decision to invade Kuwait. I was his problem to solve and with the help of his "unfailingly encouraging" family, he succeeded. Now he lives the luxurious lifestyle awarded to him for doing exactly as he was told by his father and mother, denying the pregnancy, abandoning M, and jetting back to Saudi Arabia in order to attend his suddenly-arranged marriage to his ever-so-loyal wife. Now he is the middle-man for the corrupt corporocratic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. How much did his personality play a part in his decision to become intimately involved with a woman and then deny impregnating her? 
Does he ever think of me? 
Because I think of him. For god's sake, I look like him. I write like him. I was around one of my [adoptive] cousins recently and knew how many problems he'd had with his father, my uncle, over the years; how painful that relationship has been for him. And I will admit, his father can be quite obnoxious. The funny thing was, here he was, a lot like his father. Not obnoxious, it's just that his sense of humor was quick and tart and sarcastic like his dad's. A much kinder version of it, but similar nonetheless. 
So I read between the lines, trying to understand not only the words of the author, but the author himself. Where was he coming from in writing that phrase? And why did he choose this semicolon over simply starting a new sentence? Is he longwinded in real life? Is he soft spoken? Does he talk fast and laugh loud and hard like me? I'm trying to gaze into his soul as I read his words. How much am I like my birthfather? 
These are the losses I cannot trace and hold and have. So I sit here reading this book of his, touching the pages, a tear or two spilling every once in a while. I'm proud of who I am and where I come from, but it's difficult being the bastard child of someone like him.