Our Bird

March 27, 2009
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The gravel bridge underneath my feet crunches as I nervously shift my weight. The gleaming waterfall churns in a soothing rhythm, almost lulling everyone to sleep. The damp atmosphere silently creeps into my tuxedo, and forms beads of water that descend down my back. A bird soars off of a tree leaving the branch lonely and naked; the restless bird breaks into a call shattering the overbearing silence, allowing everyone to breathe. I look to my right to see my dad; he stands in the sunlight and fights the impulse to smile. As the urge becomes too great he beams at me, his smile only reaching across half of his face. His brown hair is short and cropped. I smile back at him, trying to stretch my grin across my face, showing him that I love him. This has to be one of the best days of his life, and I am here right beside him.

Adults have this theory that children do not pay attention to what they are saying when children are playing, or when their eyes are closed. I agree with this, but every rule has exceptions and with every theory there are cases where it does not apply. I have a switch inside of me, and when I turn it on I pick up on everything that is said. For most kids this switch is triggered when certain words are said, such as: bedtime, treats, candy, movie, toys, or money. For me the switch is flipped on when I hear any mention of my father. This was because my dad was not a major part of my life while I was growing up.

As I got older I stashed away more and more information regarding my father. Here at his wedding I begin to pull all the information and notes that I had gathered out of the private safe in my mind and leaf through it. So many bad problems and so many hardships. I can hear all of the voices in my mind, bouncing around, clouding my vision, forming into a man that I hardly know. I have heard that he was a drunk, a screw up.
Part of my vision was formed from my experiences with him. He is exciting, polite, and cool. He is a soccer dad. We throw the football when I go to his house, and watch movies my mom will not let me see. Once when I was at his house for the weekend he told me where he was during the early years of my life and why he wasn’t around.

“I was in jail. I was arrested for drunk driving.” My unformed vision cracks, first it is just a small indent and then as he tells his story, information begins to come back. More starts to make sense. The crack spreads like a deadly disease, slowly at first and then like a wild fire. Shattered. The image is gone; my dad is no longer who I thought he was. I can’t begin to grasp at the idea. Who am I talking to?

Here I am standing in the beautiful bird sanctuary as my dad’s best man trying to think of an image. I am trying to form a picture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How many notes have I taken? How many stories have I heard? How many words do I have? I have more than a thousand. What picture can describe my feelings? What word can sum up my father’s image? How do I choose what to believe?

As the dew from the waterfall distorts my vision creating a haze around my father, I see an accomplished man. He went to jail and rehabilitation. But now I stand as his best man. He hasn’t touched alcohol in years. A picture can describe more than a thousand words. It can describe a life, it can describe a moment, a second.

I swell inside; it starts in the gut and slowly works its way out of my eyes. My dad is a good man. I am proud to be his son. I have my picture, it is his small smile. The smile that seems to extend only to the corners of his mouth. It says so much about a complicated life. Nothing can ever distort this new vision. I lock up my safe filled with notes and stories. I cram in my shattered picture, and close the safe.

So here I am, on the gravel bridge with water droplets rolling down my back. The restless bird fly’s back to the bare branch and lets out a sigh. The bird starts to tweet a beautiful a song accompanied by the rushing waterfall. We both listen to the bird and I smile. My dad smiles back.





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