Quiet Companion of Silence

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.  ~Marcus Aurelius”

It’s early morning once again, and I mean EARLY! Everything seems still, almost lifeless at this time of night with the only sounds heard being that of the server’s own fans humming along with the one next to my head. The world ceases to exist as a busy place with sounds of cars going by or people walking around. The world, at least around myself, is no longer there as it exists in daylight. I am surrounded again by my old companion, silence.

I’ve no stead-fast idea or reasoning for being up at this abnormal hour other than the fact that I am. There’s also been near total silence for the last few hours as well, though mostly from lack of interest in watching shows or listening to music. Rather, I have been catching up with silence, letting my mind wander as it may. These are surely the times when children would be complaining of their boredom and lack of stimulation, when in fact they have yet to learn the inner self is far from either.

I tend to spend much of my time “living inside my head”, as I’ve heard it referred to, just thinking of everything and anything. My imagination is far from limited in it’s own abilities, but rather experiences things at a different pace. I’ve held entire conversations at times, having played out all possible scenarios as a way to avoid confrontational engagements. I find that they sometimes turn into an almost infinite loop of repetition otherwise. It also happens to be relaxing and freeing from the busy world.

I’ve been called a loner, a quiet man and a few times, “that guy that will snap at random”. I instead find it to be less annoying than the reality of constantly needing to be in the know and those are the times where the stereotypes come into play most often. I don’t need to have a constant barrage of things going on around me, but prefer to just be. I can sit alone at a table in a room full of others and just let my imagination take flight. I often did so between classes while attending college, having written a vast array of things or drawn intricate sketches despite the busy atmosphere surrounding me.

The friendly companion of silence is with me and my imagination still flows without restriction. And that restriction-less flowing leads once again to an age old conundrum; too many ideas floating around, and all too quickly blending into nonsensical wonderment. Perhaps I’ll make some sense of them as I dream, building upon the mess; the chaos, a foundation, inspiration. ‘Tis funny what lack of sleep does to ones imagination, or is it sanity?

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up.  ~Pearl Buck”

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The Transition, Pt. 4

Having great bosses, spending time with my daughter and being employed was a good feeling to have. Making it a great feeling is having all three things in extremely close proximity. It’s not the travel itself that’s difficult for me. The introspective five hour, 300 mile drive is a nice escape from reality. Or at least it is when driving to my daughter. The drive back to the “hotel room with kitchenette” is a whole other feeling of shit. It really did suck.

Driving towards my daughter, I couldn’t care if it was 4 am enjoying the sunrise or 10 pm pulling into the station riding the bus. I was happy, almost blissful, at least to a point. I knew that in just 48 hours time, I’d be returning to my starting point. The drive back to continue my job was near complete and total hell. The distance between me and the place I “live” was getting smaller, while the distance between friends and my little girl was greatly increasing.

Near the second hour of driving away, I’d become numb to everything around me. My mind would be empty, my body on autopilot, just staring into the horizon speeding down the interstate. Those were the night driving times, where everything around you just blended in with each other except for what the headlamps bounced back off. The darkness further encased the emptiness that was my mind.

Monday morning shed light on the ghost of a man who had left that previous Friday. He was there, just not entirely all at the same time. By Wednesday, I was back to my normal self, enjoying the work and my surroundings, locking away Monday’s thoughts and feelings. I was looking forward to the following Friday when I’d do it all over again and be on the road to seeing my daughter.

I came to realize that driving 1200 miles a month, while partly enjoyable, was also something that I would have to rethink. While being able to force myself to believe that twice a month visits was better than nothing, twice is no longer cutting it. There’s a bouncy, happy to see her daddy, little girl that deserves a hell of a lot more time than whats been offered. She knows I’m daddy, but doesn’t fully understand I’m daddy. She trusts her daddy, but doesn’t fully understand why she trusts him. She just knows that the man she’s called daddy has shown up to take her for a day trip, to spend time with her and explore her world as she wants and sees fit. He shows affection towards her, a care in his eyes without even knowing it, and she picks that up without trouble.

There’s a bond between us that’s struggling to be kept, being constantly tested by time, time spent apart from each other. One day she’ll know all, but until then, she’ll at least know that her daddy loves her…

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Lost in Translation

Father’s Day weekend, now there’s a memory! I was supposed to have picked my daughter up that Saturday and just enjoy it doing whatever random thing caught my daughters attention. Instead I got a text earlier in the week informing me that this wasn’t going to be the case. I was livid instantly. There is no talking me out of that state of mind, only letting me punch my way through the thought process. I attempted to get more information as to why this was going to be the case with the only response being that of a runaround. This didn’t help much either in calming myself down. Neither did the text telling me that I could spend that Sunday with her. I’m not exactly sure why that bothered me as much as it did, but it did. Instead of spending Saturday with her, it would be the following day, Father’s Day.

It wasn’t until the next day that things finally were able to settle in and be fully understood. I was going to be spending Father’s Day with my daughter. I was excited when I realized this, but still for some reason, annoyed. It was all from the simple fact that I wasn’t told why my daughter wouldn’t be around for Saturday. When I picked her up, I realized the reasoning behind it, her older brother came up to visit. This was a nice surprise as I hadn’t seen him in a few months. It was a little hard for her to understand what was going on as she had only recently woke up from sleeping, but she was refusing to come with me. Though she eventually settled down after mom had put in a mindless cartoon in the portable DVD player.

The ride North was nice, minus the fact of the mindless video playing in the background. She enjoyed looking around now and then at the scenery as we drove by the farmers fields. She enjoyed spending some time at a friends house; running around outside for a while, and having a nice snack of apples. She gave me that look she gets when tired and started losing her coordination ability. It was then I knew we should leave and let her have her nap. I drove out to her grandmothers house, managing to awaken a pretty tired tot long enough for her to growl at me. She was quickly asleep on my chest almost as fast as I had sat in the recliner. It didn’t take long for me to join her in that state.

Slowly waking up is her game; eyes dotting around the room trying to figure out where she was. She knew the room, and that she was safe with daddy, but her ability to quickly put those together is still being developed. She realized she was at grandma’s house and once fully comfortable began bouncing around as though in the bouncing pen. She was an overly happy little girl, spending time with dad, on Father’s Day. It may not have meant all that much to her as to what day it was, but it was extra special to me.

By the time we got back to her mom’s house, that damn DVD had already finished playing and for that I was pleased. It meant I could talk with her now that I could keep her attention. I told her I loved her and that I enjoyed spending the day with her. When I asked her if she had fun too, she nodded her head yes with her eyes wide in the rear view mirror. I was handed an envelope by her oldest sister who informed me that everything inside was hand-written by my daughter. I said my goodbyes and then headed back North to my friends house. I hadn’t opened the envelope until having pulled into their driveway. There were two drawings and a picture of her inside.

Having nearly broken down with tears and hundreds of thoughts running through my head, I put the drawings and picture back inside the envelope and put them into my car’s glove box. While I have a few pictures of her and a poem in my apartment, I now have a more personalized touch with me every time I drive the 300 miles to see her.

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The Transition, Pt. 3

My bosses are awesome! That’s all I could manage to think up at that moment. They didn’t care when I showed up to work, as long as I put in eight hours a day. And they really didn’t. I couldn’t sleep one night, so I got up and got ready for work. At 3 am. My bosses both walked in the door around 7:30 that morning to find lights on and me at my desk, head deep in the work. They were shocked when I told them I’d already been in for the past four hours. That shock turned from how early I came in, to what I managed to get done in that amount of time. I had produced about ten concrete pour drawings not missing any details from the contract layouts. They were impressed by that amount of dedication. They gave me the ability and freedom to come and go as I pleased with my schedule, and I gave them a highly productive employee.

But looking back at the months of working at the levels of productivity that I did, I often have to wonder. How the hell did I pull this off? I worked 40+ hours a week, then every other Friday afternoon after an 8+ hour day, I’d drive 300 miles. I’d enjoy spending the following day with my daughter, hang out with friends that Sunday, and then drive those same 300 miles to be able to go to work Monday morning. And I did this every first and third weekend of the month. Between you and me, that’s freaking insane. I still do it to this day, and am still mystified as to how I’m able to pull it off. That 300 miles is roughly a five hour drive, alone in a vehicle with only the radio to keep me company. Yet I’ve never had any issues with driving like that. Well, almost never…

Remember I told you my bosses are awesome? Well they are extremely! Because I have had issues with making it back into the office a few following Mondays and we all adapted to the issues. Engine seized up after oil pump issue, exhaust connection issues and tires that were missing chunks of rubber. But my bosses took everything in stride and did what only great bosses do. They gave me what they called a “bonus” to help with the issues that came up. I just called it being payed in advanced as I worked extra hours to truly earn those “bonuses”. They were overly understanding and overly helpful in everything they did. They knew how much spending time with my daughter meant to me that they were willing to go above and beyond what a normal employer would have to help an employee out.

I got to spend every first and third Saturday, save for a few, with my daughter, despite every annoyance that occurred with my vehicles. Whether by car or bus, I made the 600 mile round trip to spend time with her and then go back to work. It was a hard thing to have to do every week, saying goodbye, I’ll see you in a few weeks. Its not something I wanted to say, but it was true, I would be seeing her in another two weeks time. Having bosses who understand this and are willing to be flexible to help an employee made it at least a little easier to deal with. There was less stress knowing this fact.

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To Shotgun Or Not

To go out and buy a shotgun or not? This is, I would guess, a fairly fundamental question that every father finds himself asking once he’s learned the baby’s sex. It seems that when the father knows he is going to have a son, the question turns from shotgun buying to ball glove buying. He almost doesn’t have as much to worry about now. His son will be raised the same way he was raised, by the school of hard knocks. You fall down, scrape your knee, you get back up and keep going. Its almost a biological expectation. The same may hold truth with daughters, but applied more towards which shotgun will be best to get.

I’ve joked with friends about it at the time and again when two found out they were expecting. He was planning to live out the vision of the grumpy father rocking on his porch, with shotgun perched against the wall, yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. That intimidation factor to scare off the young boys from getting too close to his daughter. I’ve thought about doing the same thing, using it as intimidation when the time came to keep away the ones who didn’t have a strong back to them. But I’ve come to realize that its not something that’s really needed.

Mind you, I’m a decent 6′-1″ tall, hefty young man, I’ve also been told many many times, that I’m rather scary looking even when expressionless. I don’t intend to have that kind of perception being given off, its just natural. Seeing as I’ve already got the intimidating scary look being a natural occurrence, I figure there’s no longer a need for having a shotgun. Not only is my daughter going to be made aware of this simple fact as she grows older, but the neighborhood boys will as well.

By being that naturally-intimidating-father-without-needing-a-shotgun-to-do-so, I wonder how else I can torment my daughter when she hits those teen years? My goodness did I just scare myself with that thought! Can I borrow the non-expiring “it pauses time” device?

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