Immediate side effects

The day after you find out the biological father you never met died two years ago, you will find yourself at Target and realize that you no longer have to scrutinize every tall man of a certain age and wonder “Are you my biological father?” He will not be your father.

You also have to let go of the theory you held on to for so long. The theory that if you were to see him out in the world you would instinctively know it’s him. You were convinced that something buried in your DNA would react and you would look into each other’s eyes and there it would be.

You will also have to give up the notion that someday you might inherit a gozillion dollars from the man who gave you up for adoption. Also, you will no longer have to worry that you will meet a tall, handsome redheaded man and fall in love only to discover that he is the half-brother you never knew you had. You will not, however, have to admit that you don’t actually live in a soap opera.

You will have awkward conversations with your sisters and discover how much they didn’t know about him, because that’s how little your birth father was discussed. They will not know he served in Vietnam or that he was older than your mom. None of you will know how long they were together.

They will mean well and be surprised that the idea of calling your mom with the news never crossed your mind. They will understand that if she knew and never told you, it would be devastating. You will not have to mention the fact that you cannot even imagine finding the words to have that conversation with her. They too will wonder if she doesn’t already know. They lived in the same small town, two years ago — my mother and biological father. Not many people die in that town without everyone else in that town knowing.

You will find extra special meaning in the lyrics to The Avett Brother’s “Live and Die.” All it’ll take is just one moment and you can say goodbye to how we had it planned. Fear like a habit, run like a rabbit out and away. Through the screen door to the unknown, and I wanna love you and more. I wanna find you and more. Can you tell that I am alive? Let me prove it.

The song will make you cry, big tears that shimmer on the edges of your eyes until they fall down your face. You will remember that one time your mom told you how much he loved Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” and you will add that fact to the small handful you have and look forward to the day or the week or the month or the year when that handful will be enough and the never-to-be answered questions will cease to matter.

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3 Comments

  1. Christa 11.Sep.12 at 2:54 pm

    Dang, girl. Yesterday I was trying to imagine what this felt like and today you put it together well enough for me to start crying in the Skywalk on my way back from Subway.

    Seems like all these years of blogging have given you the ability to really, really express things in a really great way as you’re sorting through them and not just in the future when it’s been processed. I’m glad you have this. I hope it is helping.

    It feels tacky to commend you on a piece of writing when you’re going through this. But, man, that was a hell of a piece of writing.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 11.Sep.12 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you. I tend to process through writing, it goes all the way back to the days when I kept my journal in notebooks with pink or turquoise pages.

      Also, big emotions make me try to slow down and get it right. When I’m just farting on about how much I love The Rolling Stones, I much more careless.

      One of the best posts I think I ever created was about the death of Luke Buklin, which I wrote on a day fraught with so much fucking emotion I’m still a little hungover from it two years later. That post always makes me bawl my head right off, and I wrote it. I don’t know if that’s because I’m completely egotistical or if I just did a good job of evoking the emotions I was feeling.

      Reply
  2. Brett 12.Sep.12 at 9:36 am

    Wow. Sadly Beautiful.

    Years ago I found out my estranged Grandpa (my dad’s dad) had died in 1990 in the same town I lived and grew up in. My dad and I had never seen or talked to him, as far as I knew. Not exactly the same thing, but I felt weird and sad for my dad, who was pretty much deserted as a small child with his mom and sister. I wondered if this guy ever went to my sporting events, or followed my life at all. I found out he was a WWII Navy vet, and served in the battle of Okinawa. I think every war has fucked up untold millions of lives…

    Reply

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