I was writing recently about my suspicious lack of grieving for my father, and I came to realize that it was bizarrely easier for me to grieve for something else.
I just sold the first house that my father and I shared (just the two of us), and then, the house that he and I bought together. And it was so incredibly painful to say goodbye to each of them.
For those who knew me way back when: both Dover and my epically tragic but bizarrely charming Pinedale are now in the hands of strangers. And it was me that signed the papers that let them go.
Dover was the house in Satellite Beach that my dad moved to after he and my mother divorced. It was where I celebrated my 18th birthday. It was the house where my dad gave a spare bedroom to Lil’ Josh, because Dad knew I loved Josh, even if I never said so to either of them, because I was too afraid to be honest with either.
It was also where I spent the infamous First Summer: the first summer out of high school, and the summer of our own Rocky Horror Picture Show cast parties. The summer of sleep deprivation. The summer of having “the talk” one by one, where I shamefully but optimistically came out to friends, terrified but hopeful, never dreaming of a day in which it would be a nonchalant thing that everyone either knew already or wouldn’t be fazed by.
And then there’s Pinedale, the first house that I ever bought, where I shared a home with one of the most genuine human beings I’ve ever known. (Seriously, Anthony, your reputation would be so ruined if the world had an inkling of what a remarkable and compassionate person you are, regardless of our nicknames for you.)
Pinedale was the house where my so-called little brother Damon and I invented some of the tastiest and most bizarrely named adult beverages this world has ever known. Most people will never understand the nostalgic joys of Alien Sperm (do they still make green Frutopia?), or Bahama Hooker, or our infamous Sex in Elena’s Room. (Elena, I swear this is true: a German foreign exchange student in New Mexico knew that drink, having learned it in Europe from another exchange student who had been friends with me years prior.) To most people, these stories sound silly, but to Damon and me, they’re a legacy.
So I’m sitting here writing about these houses, which are now sold, and I’m fighting back tears. And I find myself wondering: are these houses, and my grief for them, a proxy for my dad? Is it easier to cry for them, and the memories from them, than to acknowledge that my father is gone?
I dunno. Maybe? But still, those were some formative years. Those two homes, more than most, helped shape who I am today. And yes, Dad was a major part of that, to be sure. But even separating him from the scenario, I grieve knowing that they’re no longer a part of my future.
Like my dad, they’re gone. I’ll miss them, but I’ve got to keep facing forward.