There might seem like there is little left to chance when a person sets out to create their own identity. You rebel. You experiment. All either in utmost calculated reverence of immortality or in the piercing light of chaos, but still you race toward, or you fall into, or you amble onto creating the person that will interact with all the identities created in this world.
There is a distance that is sometimes declared: I am not my parents; their genetic imprint are only building blocks for my frame of reference, my establishing values, my sense of impending self.
Somewhere, sometimes, you might flit by the idea that perhaps the motions of your life were set in direct action by your parents. And with all the horrors that can come from that, perhaps sometimes there needs to be gratitude and remembrance.
When I was young, five or six or six or seven, my Dad first got our family a computer. I would sit on the floor, interested in the grinding and whirring noise of the computer and usually stretched out on the floor playing with Barbies or Legos or both. I was hesitant to appeal to my Dad, who at that time, spent a lot of time in deployment. Six months, six months, three months. It makes my memory patchy.
Within those patches I try to recall if I asked to play on the computer or if I was invited to join him. There is a faint memory of me standing at his shoulder, him sitting back in the worn leather government chair he inherited from his father that is now in the corner of my room. The joysticks for flight simulators were blocky then, a jutting handle from a simple plastic, rectangular base – two buttons, two adjustments for accuracy.
It was a Russian flight simulator – SU-25 Sturmovik. There was a worn booklet where you would have to type in a Russian word as a password to enable the computer to play the game. The graphics were shades of grey against greens, with harsh cockpit HUD lines and even shakier targeting. For the time and through the eyes of a child, it was like you were really there. [Honest! And looking at the graphics that I found, I had one hell of an imagination.]
I remember becoming quite proficient for my age; but then, there is a bias.
One time, while playing, it all coincided so that I was screeching, the computer was screeching, and the speakers were screeching while my Dad watched me pilot my imaginary and quite out of control jet onto the ground, securing the mission, while the CGI puffs of smoke showed one or the other wing of the plane on fire. I happily bounced around on the squeaky leather chair.
Later to set up a game campaign for my very own, I needed to be logged in on my own saved game. It needed a name. No, it couldn’t just be my name, as the cursor blinked on the line under my Dad’s game handle, a German name he had somehow taken a liking to. I sat next to my Dad on a stiff chair and he quizzically looked at the screen and to me. Slowly he punched out one character, clack, clack, clack, after the other – firewings.
I have used this name on the internet for years, and in the blogging world, where it seems that you might be committing a faux pas when the URL of your site doesn’t match your handle, I’ve never even thought to change it. Email accounts, messengers in all shapes and sizes, registrations for software, IRC conversations with strangers across the globe – firewings slaps N00b with trout. Clandestine late night conversation with friends, with lovers, with other enigmas, all shrouded in the this identity.
I can’t really separate it from myself here in the ether, nor have I sought to try.
It embraces my impulses, my strengths, my plainness, my desires, my simplicity. I’m reminded how I tend to burn bridges, but usually complete some sort of personal sortie for better or for worse. It reminds me I have been groomed into a nomadic soul, comfortable with solitude, yet peering out of the hut to sniff at the spices of stability. It’s a clichéd dichotomy of light and dark that I will probably need to ponder on, endure, confront, and then embrace. Sometimes I think I’m pretty close to the embrace, sometimes it seems like it moves far, far away.
So for that, and so that I remember and ponder, yet paramount as a tribute for someone who will probably hate them the most, I have gotten these, one on each foot, last Saturday. Yes Dad, they are real; and yes Dad, I love you too.
Roughly five hours after I posted this, my father died of lung cancer that he fought for over two years. He was 49.