I just had to share this excerpt from Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I am listening to it on audio in the car to and from work.
It is by far one of the most powerful and gripping descriptions I have ever read (heard, in this case). It stopped my in my tracks. I had to rewind and listen to it again. And again.
Cheryl is describing her father who wasn't in her life for very long. This is so poignant, so riveting...
He was like a home movie that played in my head, one whose narrative was broken and sketchy. There were big dramatic scenes and inexplicable moments floating free from time, perhaps because most of that I remember about him happened in the first 6 years of my life. There was my father smashing our dinner plates full of food against the wall in a rage. There was my father choking my mother while straddling her chest and bagging her head against the wall. There was my father scooping my sister and me out of bed in the middle of the night when I was five to ask if we would leave forever with him, while my mother stood by, bloodied and clutching my sleeping baby brother to her chest, begging him to stop. When we cried instead of answered, he collapsed onto his knees and pressed his forehead to the flood and screamed so desperately I was sure we were all going to die right then and there. once, in one of his tirades, he threatened to throw my mother and her children naked onto the street, as if we weren’t his children too. We lived in Minnesota then. It was winter when me made the threat. I was at an age when everything was literal. It seemed precisely like a thing that he would do. I had an image of the four of us, naked and shrieking, running through the the icy snow. He shut Leif, Karen and me out of our house a couple of times in Pennsylvania, when my mother was at work and he was left to care for us and he wanted a break. He ordered us into the back yard and locked the doors, my sister and me holding our barely walking baby brother by his gummy hands. We wandered through the grass weeping and then forgot about being upset and played house and rodeo queen. Later, enraged and bored, we approached the back door and pounded and hollered. I remember the door distinctly and also the three concrete stairs that led up to it, the way I had to stand on tiptoes to see through the window in the upper half. THe good things aren’t a movie. There’s isn’t enough to make a reel. The good things are a poem, barely longer than a haiku. There is his love of Johnny Cash and the Everly Brothers. There are the chocolate bars he brought home from his job in a grocery store. There are all the grand things he wanted to be, a longing so naked and sorry I sensed it and grieved it even as a young child. There is him singing that Charlie Rich song that goes “Hey did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?”