The Man I Want To Be
As I sit here, my World of Warcraft rogue character is standing on the main road that courses through Ashenvale forest on it Celestial Steed, waiting for me to guide it to its destination. Much like this wilderness spanning before me in the game, I’m constantly standing before the wilderness of the world and I’m incapable of passing by the closest tree—the first step into the wild.
This post was going to be about a tie (yes, a necktie) but it seems to be budding into a bit more than that. You see, my father is a well respected man in his circle of influence. He used to work at the Palace in the Dominican Republic for the late President Joaquín Antonio Balaguer Ricardo. He is a prolific writer of both prose and poetry and has published several books and collections, often very patriotic works dedicated to our homeland. Let’s just say he’s lived a long, fruitful life (in more ways than one, considering the huge list of women he’s married, fathered children with, and divorced).
I really don’t know the old man, though. Not really. For some reason, I have always been apprehensive about him. Our telephone conversations are usually short and to the point. I know he loves me and I love him but we have never bonded. This makes deep conversation about anything difficult, if at all impossible. He doesn’t know how to reach out to me beyond the simple small talk within a 1.5 minute phone conversation and I have no idea how to begin even fathoming what I should say beyond the obvious. Despite this, I know I am my father’s son. How do I know? I know enough.
I know that he laughs heartily and unapologetically. I know that he loves to write and expresses himself best in his writing. I know that he truly loves and cares about people but keeps himself at a reasonable distance from them. I know he cares more about his children than he lets on. I know he puts respect, honor and pride at the forefront of all his actions and relationships. I know that he loves my mother and loves me. I also know he loves ties.
I do too. My father has a huge collection of neckties. I want one too. I want this beautiful thing on the right. Yes, I dig the black one in the middle with the pink unicorn in action. It comes in black with a silver unicorn instead of pink as well. I want them both. Yes, I wear pink. I would blame my mother for buying me salmon colored clothing when I was young but blame would be the wrong word for it. Thanks is much more appropriate.
There’s something about me that I do not like, among many things. I do not ever wear the clothes I want to wear. I attended All Hallows High School in Bronx, New York and a simple uniform was required: shoes or sneakers, slacks or dress pants, button up shirt, and a necktie. As much as I appreciated never having to wear that getup again, it became a part of me; that is, it became a part of the man I want to be. I think I left a piece of me back there when I dropped out of college. I didn’t simply leave the campus and my education behind, I left a big piece of me. My best friend was also going to college at Middlebury, my family shelled out money to get me into college, and my father paid for my private high school tuition. Nothing was the same when I left college; I left my life behind. What I came out with was not the best part of me.
The shadow of me ended up running away from home to North Dakota to be with a woman that fell for the pre-shadow me only to end up in the frigid winter, trying to find a way back to New York and the family I abandoned. I managed to find a job when I got there and it worked out for a while but time came to move on and then my step-father stepped in and put a stop to my foolishness. I found myself renting a room in an apartment and working at Starbucks. I escaped the world and the pit of self-hatred I found myself in by working an average of 60 or more hours a week at any store where I find work. If my wife had not found me then, in the same chat room that I found my inspiration for self-damnation, I would not be here writing this blog post. I don’t know where I would be; I do know, however, where I would not be: in a good place. The best place.
My wife got the short end of the stick. She got the shadow of me. I fear that, despite all her efforts to make me a better man, I am still far from what I could have been—what I should have been. It can’t be helped, nor would I change things in my past. I have no regrets because if things had happened differently, I wouldn’t have become addicted to that chat room and wouldn’t have been there to attract that woman who eventually became my wife. That doesn’t change the fact I’m not my father’s son any more. Yes, I lied. I’m not my father’s son any more. I lied to make the point that I am not what I want to be.
No, I don’t want to be my father. My father had many women in his life and many divorces. I want one woman in my life and no divorces. That part of who my father was, how he lived his life, is not something I want to ever want to be a part of me. I do, however, want to be the Edwin that I could have been before I dropped out of college and left the best parts of me behind. I want to put on a pair of nice shoes; well ironed slacks; black, button up shirt; and that bold, black and pink unicorn necktie. It screams the man who I want to be. I want to put those clothes on and never take them off. It represents more than I can possibly explain without making this into a much longer adventure into the Edwin I’m not.
I managed to get off the road in the game and into a safe haven. My World of Warcraft character is currently in an inn in a town main road through Ashenvale cuts through. I could simply get back on that road and make my way through the forest and into the wilderness. I could put on my armor and brandish my weapon and become the man I want to be but I fear leaving my safe haven. In reality, I sit here idly before my computer in the house my wife, my daughter, her boyfriend, and their babies live in with me. This is my safe haven and I’m not wearing my high school uniform. I left that back in the dorm room of college. Perhaps I fear my father because he represents more of the man I want to be than I can ever be. If I get back on the road and step into the wilderness, will my wife still love the man I become—the man I want to be?
I dare not take that chance. I am happy in my safe haven. I wouldn’t change it for the world—or me.