Alex (yakshaver) wrote,
Alex
yakshaver

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My father's footsteps

Sometimes — I'd be willing to bet it's when he's had a long day — the guy in the upstairs apartment's gait walking up stairs sounds just like my father's used to. He got home a few minutes ago, and today was one of those days. A fact which would probably have escaped my conscious notice had he not paused for a couple of seconds on the second floor landing: right outside the door that's at my back when I'm at my computer. I thought I heard keys jangle — I suppose he stopped to find his front-door key. He was really only there for a couple of seconds at most. But by the time he started up the stairs again, my breath had caught and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up.

My father has been dead for more than half my life now. But the thought of him outside my door can still strike terror into me.

I've long since forgiven him. Learned to admire and love the things that were good about him. I've tried to understand the forces that made him what he was; the demons he fought and often lost to. I accept that he was the best man he could figure out how to be with the tools he had. But give me the momentary illusion that he is somehow for the first time in 25 years standing outside my door and all that goes out the window. And only the fear remains.

I thought I was over this. I distinctly remember the last time it happened: One day in the early '90s I was walking between Harvard and Central, when suddenly there was an old white pickup like he used to drive coming down Mass Ave toward me. I was looking for a shadow to hide in before I knew why.

It wasn't that I was over it: it was that there aren't any late '60s white Dodge pickups on the road anymore. And I hadn't happened to live in the same building as someone with the same gait as his.
Tags: family
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