“Where’d you come from baby?”
My roots hold a hazy scene in my mind.
A vivid blur, if that makes any sense.
A recent weekend in my hometown of Bryan, Tx caused a nostalgic yearning for remembrance.
Back roads and old country music make it impossible to forget the heartbreak, flickering scenes of youth and seasonal comfort that tell my story.
There are a few memories that always come to mind when I think about my biological father…the first couple would be Little Caesars pizza and Barbie dolls. Damn, that was my jam when I was a tiny soul. I was a lanky, hazel-eyed dreamer with a raspy voice that still haunts me on home videos. Tony would never let me put the stickers on my new Barbie cars. He made sure the windows and the doors were stickered properly, I always appreciated that.
“Yea, she tied her hair up in ribbons and bows, signed her letters with x’s and o’s…”
I was confused when I saw him loading up his dresser drawers in a van; that was weird for me to watch. Something told me that life was growing to a healthier point for my family and that Tony leaving was necessary.
It was necessary.
My dad liked to throw fits. I’ll never forget the looks we got at the Mexican restaurant in downtown Bryan, it was most likely a Sunday. Something didn’t go his way so he slammed his hands against the table and sent the salsa flying in the air. Ain’t that some shit? I knew then why my mom resisted any affection with my dad. She was not perfect in their relationship but I know she worked hard and was devoted to her girls. That was gold to me.
I remember how cold the kitchen floor was on my bare feet (I wasn’t a fan of shoes) when he kneeled down in front of me and told me that I could come live with him any time I wanted. A small part of me jumped at the idea but I knew that I could never leave Jacque. She was the coolest and I needed her with me. She needed me too.
I made Velveeta macaroni and cheese and anxiously peeked through the blinds waiting for him to arrive from Missouri. I saw the lights and heard the roar of his eighteen wheeler. I greeted him with a smile and a plate of cold macaroni and cheese. We sat and talked at the exact round, wooden table my mom has in her kitchen today. It was a minimal high for me, still a high though. The visits wore off and the distance grew.
Too distant to touch.
Too distant to feel.
Too distant to connect.
Too distant to repair.
There was such a comfort when I was with Joe Weido. I knew nobody could touch us. We understood each other and that made us such a strong team. We liked darkness, it gave us peace in our minds when the world was too heavy. I’m speaking of literal darkness, such as a dimly lit room. As strange as it was and is today, I love cloudy days and dark rooms. He just “got it” when it came to our mutual emotional slums. No matter the lows, our shared company brought us joy and laughter. We ate big macs when we watched Urban Cowboy; I remember the ring of condensation on his glass top coffee table from my McDonalds cup. He liked Milky Way candy bars and would always save half for me when I got home from school. Organic foods weren’t a part of my youth.
“There’s nothin’ left you can do to try and bring me ‘round. ‘Cause everything you do just brings me down…”
We always seemed to connect no matter the environment. He was my constant.
His hair was silver and slick by the end of the day no matter if I washed it that day or not. I always liked it when he didn’t wear his teeth. It never felt natural when he was talking to me if he was wearing his teeth. He wore a blue collared shirt and a classic cut pair of Wrangler jeans every day. Kool cigarettes were his brand of choice and he always had a pack tucked in the pocket of his shirt. His eyes and hands were unforgettable, both so distinct in character. His eyes were deep and brutally honest with the world. His hands were like callused leather. He was a carpenter, a poker player, a cattleman and an Italian spirit. I remember the night his wallet got washed with his jeans and I ironed all of the bills out until they were dry and crisp. As a little girl, I was convinced he was some type of gangster.
My PawPaw died on October 11, 2004 at the age of 72. Too damn young.
Years of working outside without a shirt caused irreversible sun damage and eventually Melanoma. Within the last days of his life I stopped by his house on my way to my Homecoming dance to show off my dress, I was free of my tomboy years. When he saw me his expression brightened and he smiled the coolest smile. His eyes were no longer sedated, they were familiar. Fixed with mine as they always were in past years.
Joe Weido taught me how to hammer a nail and how to be tough and mean. He gave me my grit. I will always cherish that.
He will always be my Johnny Cash.
I will always be his “Suga”.
My recent trip to Bryan was more than a getaway. When I saw that Opersteny road had been paved, (when did that happen?) my mind was swept away to a past scene. I was young and wild. I was a confused daughter. I was in love with a toxic boy. I was a Tom Petty song. I was a pair of cutoff Levi’s. I was a half-ass Bryan High School student. I was angry. I was a loud and proud rock and roll child. I was looking for Jesus Christ. I was scared of my imagination. I was exactly who I needed to be.
My mind always runs for the wild.
I am so grateful for that weekend that stirred my memory and reminded me of the coolest man I’ve ever known. Carrabba road will never feel like home again but I like the girl who is rooted there, she lived the exact life she was destined to.