“The events of my childhood, lurid as some of them were, contributed more to my sense of independence and my sense of responsibility toward others.”
C.J. Cherryh, Cyteen 1988, III, p.24. (Scary Cyteen obsessive fact, I wanted to find the exact quote and it took me mere seconds.)
So, yesterday, after finishing writing and before going offline to make dinner, I checked my email. There was email from my aunt, which there generally is a couple of times a week, but this one had the heading “Mike”. Either, I thought, something really exciting has happened in the Archers, or my father is dead and she has somehow found out about it. I shouldn’t read so much rasseff, where a bare name is generally a death announcement.
I haven’t spoken to or heard from my father since 1984, not quite twenty years. He’d telephoned my aunt, saying he seemed to have mislaid my address (for nineteen years, as anyone might…) and thought she might have it. She didn’t give it to him, of course, but she did take his phone number, which she sent me. She thinks he imagined she wouldn’t be in close touch with me, so she might believe he’d had my address until recently. He told her he wasn’t surprised I was in Canada, which was all she told him while frankly, I’d have imagined anyone who last saw me in 1984 would be surprised, because I don’t think I’d ever thought about the existence of Canada twice for two consecutuve minutes in the nineteen years I’d been alive. He was trying it on. He does that.
Hearing that he’s alive and trying to contact me shouldn’t have sent me into a complete state of shock, but it did.
When Rysmiel and I got married last year, I had to say on the marriage certificate that I did not know my father’s profession, nor whether he was alive or dead. I thought he was probably dead, but maybe I under-estimate how likely alcohol is to kill you. Or maybe he’s stopped drinking, my aunt said he didn’t sound drunk, and it was evening there.
It’s complicated. I don’t know what I want. I spent half my evening explaining him to poor Rysmiel, who had heard most of it before and was very patient. My father is not like other people’s fathers. He’s my biological father, and I knew him when I was in my teens, and most people would probably judge him more harshly than I do.
I’d really like to give him back his copy of The Sirens of Titan.
I’m pretty sure I don’t want him to be in my life in any significant sense, unless he’s changed a lot, and if he’s changed a lot I don’t know him and it may well not be worth putting the effort in. The world is full of people I don’t know, after all, without their having history with me.
He was pretty much the age I am now when I last saw him.
If I had an address, rather than the number of a mobile phone in Greece — and that is so totally totally typical — I’d probably send the Vonnegut and write. I don’t know if I’d tell him my name and address — he doesn’t know my surname, I changed it when I married Ken. In some ways I’d like him to know I am OK, I have published novels, Zorinth exists. Zorinth, who I have not yet told about this, is in some dim biological sense, his grandson.
On the other hand, he can be a sponge, financially, emotionally. I like him in some ways, but the more I think about him the less I want him to be able to turn up unannounced, which is a habit of his.
I’m glad he’s OK.
But why does he want to be in touch now? My aunt has been in the phone book always. He was probably in Greece, and it reminded him of me, briefly and sentimentally.
I hate making telephone calls anyway.
If I tell him my name that’s it, I’ll never be able to get away from him again.