It’s been a good day, a long day, but a good one. I signed a lease today and will be moving into my own place tomorrow. This will be good for me as I have been living the hobo fabulous lifestylre too long, living on the largesse of others. Aside from that I completed some work project, paid my school deposit, got a lead on a new side hustle, made friends with just about everyone I spoke with and ate pretty healty.
But there was one dark cloud today: Since I can’t move I to my flat until tomorrow, I called my grandma to see if I could crash at hers on the south side of town.. There was no answer. No worry, I was in no rush. After all, I had a series of buses to take and a 90 minute trip with which to reach her. Just then, my new landlord, good samaritan that he is, offered me a ride to the southside as he had to go the depot for my new bedroom door anyhow.
We shot the shit for the drive and I like him and his integrity quite a bit. A few years older than me, he had taken his time finding a wife and starting a family -partying and such. We parted amicably, and I liad my backpack against the door and rang.
My grandfather answered the door and just looked at me and said, “Now you’re moving in?” Before I could explain he lost his shit and started yelling mostly incoherently about how he didn’t want to take care of anyone else and how his house wasn’t for rent.
Perhaps I should have known better -lat3ely he has been suffering from dementia (but I actually think there was a clarity to his words that I had never heard before…more on that in a sec), and between my invalid uncle and my cousin with his live-in fiance, my grandpa has a lot on his shoulders. I should have known better.
The fact that he is mostly deaf made explanations no easier and my grandma struggled to explain that I had just signed a lease and needex one night, even though I could tell she had he apprehensions about taking on a new dependant.
Here’s the thing -my] grandfather has never said an ill word to me, let alone raised his voice at me so I compltely taken aback, when later in the kitchen he unloaded on me with a lucidity I had never heard from this man who I always assumed was fairly unassuming:
“You’re a bum! You’re no good. I know what kind of guy you are! Why don’t you go to your father’s place? I’m not your father! I don’t want bums in my house. You don’t work!”
The whole time my grandma was getting upset but I implored her gently to let him keep going. I was upset by this, but also fascinated because from a certain perspective I agreed with him -there was truth in his words and it is a truth which I have been mostly isulated from my whole life and had to learn myself: I have not been making the most of my potential. But people have only just started telling me this and its a feeling like doors are closing as I get older.
It’s not a wholly bad thing -it’s motivated be to get my shit together, but again, it was pretty surprising coming so lucidly from from this man who is usually in his own world, mostly deaf, suffering from dementia and who usually calls me the wrong name.
My grandma tried to soften the blow, telling me didn’t mean it, but when I pressed her on the specificity of his word she said, “He used to love you so much. He wanted so much for you. ”
Even writing this I have to laugh. It’s so sad and its like being the last to find out what everyone thinks about you, even tho0ugh you know it about yourself and suspect they think it too.
But again, insulation; I feel like I have been lied to.
I lef tthe house to come here to this cafe and work on my computer and for a moment I got mad at my grandfather -I do work after all. When it copmes down to it he doesn’t know fuck all about me or my struggle. But that’s not the point -his truth, no matter how tangential and uninformed of the broader picture, IS STILL TRUE. I know its true because that’s how he sees it. There is something correct in his estimation that cares little for rationalizations, plans, non-traditional jobs, etc. His opinion is no the be-all, end-all but it is valid because it is ancestral, and on some levelhe must be worried that I have broken faith with him and everyone who came before.
Fair enough. I intend to make good on his faith and redeem the struggles him and those before him went through to bring me here. I don’t know that he’ll live to see it, but he does’t have to. The message has been communicated; maybe the last gift from this ancestor.
I won’t squander it.
In closing I will say this: Over the last year I haev really connected with the song No Eyes by Claptone. The chorus, “…no eyes…..no eyes on meeeeeee…” connects with me because as the first-born grandson I was the golden boy my whole life and everyone’s eyes were on me. Now, at 35 people have stopped giving a shit and are divesting. No eyes on me.
It fills me with foreboding and existential dread that I am alone. But its alrite because its also freedom.
And that’s what happens when you get past the breakers of ancestral pressure -the waves upon waves of “get married” and “start a family” which rash into your dinghy, wearing you down and pushing you back to the familiar shores of how it has always been done.
The brreakers will knock you back and leave you stranded in the same cycles of behaviour of everyione who came before if you give up. But if you persist, and keep fighting and paddling past the good-advice and well-intentioed interventions, you make it out to the open water.
But all that happens then is that you are in the middle of the ocean, left to your own devices with no eyes on you.