We sat there, looking out at the water with our fast food. Dad had picked up both KFC *and* Carl's Jr. Two big KFC meals, and some kind of chicken sandwich - which is literally what I requested. The sun was setting, and it was so quiet.
I had showed up at his house much earlier in the day. This day had been 2 weeks in the making. Two weeks ago, I saw his house for the first time.
My sis Amy had brought us to dad's new house in Huntington Beach. I had heard it had water in the back, and that it was expensive. I don't know, I guess I just didn't expect it to actually look like a great house.
So we pulled up to the house, and kj and I were stunned at the house. It was like a house you see those Columbian drug lords use as mansions. This one had arches for the entryway, guarded by twin arched garage doors. Several palm trees rudely jutted out of a small patch right in front of the main door. My dad came to the door and we stepped through heavy wood and iron doors. The entry way was a huge hall with a painted sky ceiling and windows lining the top one foot of wall on either side. And the whole back of the house was a view of the harbor that was dad's new backyard. Amazing.
We explored the house. The previous owners had renovated from the ground up last year. Everything was the best quality. Heated floor tiles in the master bath. Recessed, wireless remote control lighting in every room. An eight-jet upright spa.
All the furniture was temporary. Dad had picked it up from Macy's and wasn't happy with how it looked in the house. Since when did he care about fashion? Weird. So he was getting replacement set from Wickes. Wickes! Dad was hit in his blue Volvo in the 80s making a left turn in front of a Wickes on Magnolia. Wickes, I hate Wickes.
So some of the furniture was leaving. You could tell because the rejects had little yellow stickies on them that said "return to macy's".
Previous owners left all kinds of stuff. An outdoor 5-speaker BOSE sound system. 3-channel Cerwin-Vega home theater speaker system. Technics receiver. RCA DVD player. 32" Hitachi TV. Lots of cables that go to mysterious places within the walls.
Dad had told me he'd like to get a full sound system, something that could make use of the outdoor speakers. So that's what I was doing the last couple weeks. Getting ready for one big night when I spent a load of money at Best Buy. For that one night at Best Buy, I was king. Bought the whole store, I felt like. New receiver, DVD/VCR combo, speakers. All kinds of junk. Just that day I was working on a Best Buy project at work, a promo site for them. I mentioned it to my Best Buy and Sony clients the next day - big mistake, since none of the things I bought were made by Sony. They gave me grief.
So I brought all this stuff to dad's to install it today. Started about 1pm, worked hard for several hours, and we were taking a break for dinner. Dad had been putting some outdoor furniture together he got from Target. 1.4 million dollar home, and he gets outdoor furniture from Target that looks like the kind of stuff you sit at when you eat lunch at Sea World. He buys a big swing too, and is sure it will block the view once assembled.
Another thing to mention, he lives here pretty much by himself, did you know that? Mom has her house, Dad has his.
So we eat, and we talk about his life, his money, his job. I tell him we recently went up to the Redwoods up north. He says "Remember when we took our family trip up there? It was that trip I first knew I had trouble with Mom. We were different paces. I want to keep moving, see as much as possible. Mom, she says her best vacation would be go one place, stay there three days, then come home." To myself, I think, oh my gosh, I'm just like my mom. And I think, wow, I was like 8 or 9 years old, and it took them that long to realize they weren't clicking in their marriage? Weird.
I tell him about work, about how I had a pay cut, things changing, falling out with old friends. He takes all these things lightly. In my dad's world, everything will always miraculously turn out okay, even if you don't lift a finger. In my world, it is passivity that gets people killed. It happens to my employees, and to my peers. They sit, they don't strive too much, and they get left behind. I am terrified of being left behind, of not doing enough, of leaving my one job.
And my dad tells me about his many jobs, and how he left a very secure job at Edison to risk everything to go into real estate part time. It was successful, and to this day he still only works part time. He tells me how I can get into it myself, and I vow in my heart to figure it out within the next few years. I project forward into the future, and I don't want the fear anymore. Some weekend soon, I'll be back at the office at midnight, terrified of no real threats. My coworker told me that my limitations "are what they are." Stop being so hard on myself, stressing myself out. Easy advice to give. Something else to be me, cursing myself. I think to myself I need support, I need kind words, I need a boss that says "good job," affirmation, affirmation, affirmation. Really, what kind of religion do I have? Doesn't seem to help me any, that's what my coworkers will say. So much for mission in the workplace. Just an empty guy whose meaning is completely based on what his coworkers and boss think of his job performance, utilization report and budget usage. When I am without acceptance: give me enough time, I fall apart, I implode and can't think about anything except escaping.
I hear the voices in my head, the ones that say I hate my life. But it isn't true, my life is abundant, there are so many miracles, but there is a curse that keeps me from enjoying this life. And my coworker is right, if I don't get out from under the curse, I will always be unhappy, and stressed. I will be that employee that leaves job after job only to find his real troubles keep following him.
So we eat, out there on his new outdoor furniture. The tags are still hanging from the arms. The sun is going down. Dad promises that the automatic timer will turn the lights built into the wall on at 8pm. I'm cold, my dad comes back with two jackets, I pick the denim one. Then he says "let's light the fire" and I think what are you talking about, there ain't no fireplace out here just this pit of rocks, and when he comes back he's got a lighter and a gas key. Turns on the gas at the base and poof, the pit of rocks is a furnace, and a big, firey one.
So now, we're cold, we're hot, we're cold, all depends on which way the wind is blowing.
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