Wednesday, January 02, 2008

January 3rd, 2008

Tyranist and I didn't have a Buffy Wednesday yesterday, and I suppose it was my fault. He had a funeral to go to, and my uncle invited me to go for a drive with him.

My uncle is divorced and has limited visitation with his five year old daughter. So, he gets to see her every other weekend, and got to have her the whole week between Boxing Day and New Years. But, his ex-wife lives six hours away, so twice (or occasionally thrice) a month, he drives down to be with his child, and drives back when he's done.

Because of the holidays, he actually got to have his daughter here, and on the 2nd, was driving her back, planning to turn right around when he was done, and doing the whole thing in twelve or thirteen hours. I went along.

It was an interesting trip. Usually on road trips, I'm the one who drives, because I enjoy driving and I pretend it makes me a man. This was the first time I can remember where I was just a passenger, looking at the scenery go by, watching the road, occasionally reading (I'm nearly done with Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghosts," which I've really liked). My uncle, however, seemed to accomplish more than I did while driving, including taking care of his child, putting on movies for her, talking on the cellphone, and sending myriad text messages to his new girlfriend (soon-to-be fiance, he told me on the drive). On the way back, he put on a couple of DVDs, and we watched them through the night (our total trip was around fourteen hours).

I have NO IDEA how he could watch the road (and send a hundred bloody text messages) while watching GLADIATOR, but he is much more more multi-talented than I.

My uncle talked to me about life and his outlook on it, and complimented me on my writing and ability to survive for a while in Los Angeles, and talked about things I could not comprehend, such as investments and lawsuits and how my mother was before I came along and sports betting and how much fear governs our lives. I talked to him about things I understand, like the CG Oliver Reed and urinal cakes and John Lasseter and whether the "casting couch" is real and the differences between L.A. and the rest of the world.

The conversation was good. He talked about his dead brother and how he seemed to be comfortable with who he was, and how hard it is for people to do that. He talked about my father and how his generation thought it was weak to ever tell their kids they were proud of them or that they weren't absolutely worthless. He talked about my mother and how she has had a hard life yet somehow remains positive way more often than not. He talked about how to raise children and how so many parents try to be friends to their kids rather than parents to them. He also told me a funny tale about going scuba diving with a woman with breast implants that I'll probably stick in a story or script sometime.

But the real reason I thought I'd blog about this was the point of the whole trip. He had to drop his daughter off with her mother, and they met at a park, because his ex lives in a gated community and doesn't want my uncle going there.* As we were nearing the exit, he started trying to get his child excited about seeing her mother, pretending it was happy to pass her off.**

But once we let the girl go, he was quiet for a while. It seemed like a very difficult thing for him to have to say goodbye to his child and drive away.

My uncle and I immediately went to a sports bar and he put a bit of cash down on upcoming football games. That could be his way of drinking his pain away, or it could merely be fun for him, or both I suppose.

Anyway, I thought I'd say something about the feeling I got watching my uncle--who used to really be a hero to me, like Spider-man and Indy Jones and Josef Mengele--drop the child off when all he'd like to do is have her with him every day. I guess it was many feelings: I was proud of him, and jealous, and sad, and a little bit ashamed of myself, at the same time.

And the guy has to go through that all the time. I don't know if that's something I could do. Naturally, if anyone is reading this, they might be thinking, "What's the big deal? I have to do that every single day when I drop my kids off at school."

The big deal is, I don't have to. It's not something I'm too experienced with. And it was profound enough I wanted to talk about it.

They can't all be posts about me being a moron, folks.***


*I could go into this a bit, but it's mostly because my uncle has never met his ex's new husband and she's determined he never will.

**He told me his ex-wife made a show of the reunion because there was someone there to see it, and doesn't make the same effort to ease the transition. He commented that he does this so his daughter will not be sad when he leaves, apparently caring more for her welfare than he does for his own, or making the ex-wife out to be an ogre (of course, he also calls her "Satan" on occasion, and reveals a laundry list of underhanded things she does in the custodial tug-o-war).

***But wait, I forgot to tell you about the bets I made at the sportsbar, when I don't even have enough money for a dominatrix right now. See, there's fodder for another "Stupid Thing" post, maybe this weekend.

P.S. Turns out one of the teams I bet on won, and I more than doubled my money (thanks to my uncle who split the bet with me), so I didn't feel the need to beat myself up about it. This time.


ryanlb said...

My daughter has just started calling me (with Mommy's help) in the mornings if I go to work before she wakes up. It's an amazing feeling to know that she knows who I am, and that she misses me, I cannot begin to imagine what it is like, how hard it is for him not to see his daughter everyday.

The Lovell's said...

Divorce is hard and cruel. People think that once you get divorced the hard part is over... but it isn't. I commend your uncle for his efforts.