By John Pilchard
In the past week I have gone through a break up, a break up again with the same girl, and a mental breakdown. I have gained fame amongst friends and began work at a job I hate. I swore that I wouldn’t do any of these things ever again but, well, here I am.
Correspondence with my mother has skyrocketed since that eventful week. Talking to my mother is always a treat. We are both creative types. I remember being young and my mom would slave away in the basement, making jewelry. Or at least that’s what she told me. The good kind of jewelry too, not the kind with beads and strings, no, fuck that. A line my siblings and I always had to mention after we told our friends what our mother did for work.
She’s a renaissance woman and I have never told her this. Maybe that’s because she deserves a term that means much, much more. She would just laugh it off anyway because I secretly think that my mom being the center of attention makes her uncomfortable; but at the same time, I less secretly think that her being the center of attention is something she thrives off of.
Life’s greatest mystery will always be how much you don’t know about your own parents. Yeah, you may know the basic shit. But how much do you really, really know? I know how and where my parents met. I know where they went to school and what they studied in college. I know that after so many years, they are still everything to each other. And that outweighs what I don’t know, but I have a word count to reach today.
Back to the Future is a classic film. There you go, a simple sentence for and obvious statement. Though I often mistake events in Teen Wolf with scenes from Back to the Future because I wasn’t born in the 70’s, I didn’t grow up in the 80’s so please, would you kindly piss off for a second and let me finish.
One of those movies sets up and interesting premise, what would it be like to go back in time and visit your parents when they were your age? I would give anything to go back and see them. There is no morbid curiosity in this wish at all. I simply want to hangout with my parents at twenty years of age; when they would have no idea that I am their future son. Is that too much to ask?
Back to that mental breakdown again, it’s worth the mention. I’m in search of something I am learning is not obtainable and maybe that’s the first step to a wide-open life. Nothing is preposterous, but waiting in hopes that one day you can travel back in time to hangout and maybe smoke a blunt with your father. That certainly dances there, on the edge of preposterous. Then you wander some more and stumble into absolute absurdity, which is thinking that everything will work out how you want it to.
Does the realization come first? Or does the time travel?
After mental breakdown number one, I texted my mother. If I text her past 8:30 p.m. there is cause for concern on her end. I believe, that she believes, at that time of night I am either drunk or wishing that I was. I sent the text to my mother to ask her how her day ways. She simply responded with a “fine,” and then immediately sent back a kind, “How is yours? Are you ok? Are you eating?”
Then things start to change. When you have a person like that in your life and in your corner, time travel doesn’t seem to be so preposterous. Nothing is that hard with a support net, and then most things become possible. Now is the time for me to get dressed and head back in time. I know where you guys are. I’ll see you soon.
My dad went to high school in Snow Hill, Maryland. This is etched into my byproduct brain because every time we would drive by it, he would point far across the driver seat of his blue pick up and say to me “That’s where I went to school. I always used to slip out of biology and my teacher never knew.”
I call these things “sprinkles.” I will not refer to them as that from here on out because of how lame that actually sounds. I remember tidbits of information like that, spread all over my upbringing, because how could you forget the rainbow colored bits of information that sounded so cool coming from your parents?
My dad used to skip out on class? It’s worth mentioning that while I may be a degenerate today, I did that on my own free will and can say that my wonderful parents raised me perfectly. It’s also worth mentioning that my dad is a chemist and has been one for the past 30 years. The juxtaposition of such a rambunctious adolescence, to becoming a manipulator of chemicals, makes my father a super hero in my eyes.
There are some really cool things about that guy that I also think are worthy of mention. He had a Camaro in what I believe would have been the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. He wore flannels, like me. He listened to AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, like me. He loved Mad Max, like me. He drove fast and raised a proper amount of hell, just like me. Dad, I have a Triumph now. While I don’t think I could ever obtain the level of cool you reached and still to this day hold on to, I do think that maybe I got a little bit of it. And that’s something so inexplicably cool about the non-biological traits passed down from father to son.
The details on this next one are kind of hazy to me but in a way that I can’t even be mad about. I don’t know all the details because my dad hides it in a shroud of jokes, (which is equally awe inspiring.) He jokes about how he went to a special school. In today’s climate that’s not something to laugh about but I could shake two drips of piss at that. From what I’ve gathered, my dad, from a very early age, showed all the signs of becoming a genius. He was sent to this “special” school to do what ever it is that early genius’ do. I wouldn’t know. That’s the explicable thing about actual biological traits that is not so cool.
Also, from what I’ve been able to gather, this school needed some sort of state representatives letter of recommendation to attend. It wasn’t something that you bought your way into. This was the closest thing anyone ever got to Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters that wouldn’t require too much jealousy. The less I know about this era in his life the more mystical he becomes. I mean, this could have been a real warped Dead Poets Society for all I know, or it could have been a teenage One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But again, that all adds to the wild mysticism of the guy.
All he wanted to be was a park ranger somewhere remote.
My dad met my mom at the house that I was raised in. The house still stands today and they still fill it with warmth. Their warmth is just a bit different though; it’s fresh baked food, dog smell, and cigarette smoke. But that’s also warmth to me. My mom still complains about the smell of the smoke. The big blue house sits on a little hill, before a very busy road. I don’t live with them anymore but I feel like I’m getting close to the point of going back there, for their sake or for mine. It’s getting hard to tell anymore.
They met as teenagers and were married before that era of their lives ended. They still act like two people would who were melded within young love. My mom loves to say that my dad “didn’t weigh over 100 pounds soaking wet when we got married.” But he filled out, my brother filled out, and I’m just here waiting to fill out.
Now don’t get me wrong, Back to the Future had some pretty blatant Oedipus Rex vibes going on. Maybe that was just the time? Luke and Leia, Marty McFly and Lorraine McFly, and Mary Corleone and Vincent Mancini, yeah, seems like the 1980’s was just a weird time for film and the world. But thank God for Ronald Reagan and cocaine. In my Back to the Future situation, it wouldn’t be 80’s weird; it would be like how the 1980’s should have been.
Once I finally responded to my mom, a few minutes later, I told her that I was having a good day but I was having a bout of writers block. Without any hesitation, a fraction of a second later, she texted “Write about dog farts.” I half laughed, half shrugged it off, as I used to do when she told me a tall cup of milk was the key to being happy, before I would down a glass, and catch the bus for school each morning.
I went back to my desk and sat and stared at an empty screen. My computer was dead and I couldn’t find my charger. I really need to get better at this. The text my mom had sent me sat back in my brain. Then, the writer’s block started to slip away, like it does and I began to write about dog farts.
My Back to the Future situation wouldn’t be like the movie at all. I wouldn’t have to struggle to make sure my parents ended up together, because they just would. However, when I eventually meet my young mom, who doesn’t know that it’s me who is her future son, I would break that fourth wall. But before I did, I’m sure we would go to a David Bowie show or listen to a Beatles album. Not Rubber Soul though, she hates that one. And after that I would thank her for all the love, all the phone calls and all the texts filled with words of encouragement. She might get hung up on the concept of texts, but that’s ok. I would thank her for every single letter and card she ever wrote me while I was away at college. I would tell her that I still have every single one. I would tell her that I very frequently flip through each one to just study the curvature of the way she writes, “love always, mom xoxo.”
I would have to speed up all the things I wanted to thank her for because the picture in my pocket of my parents and me would be absent of the then future me in just a few minutes. I would thank her for meeting my dad and eventually giving me my two other best friends. I would tell her of the impact she makes on so many people each and every day. I would tell her that she is the world to so many people. More specifically, I would tell her how proud of her I was and still am about the way she took care of her father a bit later on down the road. Something I’ve never been able to say to her in person due to the fear of absolutely crumbling down in front of her. And she doesn’t need that. Then I would leave her, content and eager to see her again sometime in the far away future.
Who wouldn’t want to watch Back to the Future written by the guy who did The Notebook?
My dad taught me how to drive a manual transmission. This simple something, mildly impressed so many of the girls I used to date, opened up conversations to people I would have otherwise never spoken with and landed me jobs I otherwise might not of had. My manual transmission gets me to all the places I need to get to during my day to day and it gets me to the people who help carry me on. It’s not always about the lesson; it’s about when you realize the importance of the lesson and when the time strikes right in life. My dad taught me how to climb gears and how to get where I need to be. My transmission to my car is my father to me.
My mom used to take me to the canal to dig for fossils. We would sift through sand, in hopes of a tooth or a bone and in my head, I always wished I discovered a new species of dinosaur that I could name after our family. Hell, I still do. We usually just went home with a box of full of stalagmite fossils, and that was ok. She taught me to be patient and sift through all the old things, all the old memories because one day they will be of value to someone. She taught me to be kind and how to properly shake hands with someone. “If you squeeze hard, they will always remember you.”
I quit my job to write full time at the ripe old age of 23. I tell my parents that I’ve been aged horribly and my soul is roughly 94 years old. They don’t think that’s funny, but I do. I often sense that face value, they don’t laugh at most of the things I say because it’s some parental thing to not encourage, foul language, or off color humour but the optimistic side of me thinks that behind closed doors, they think I’m hysterical. And that’s the funniest joke.
I learned something this week, amongst the heartache, soul crushing work and the lousy brain that just wants to keep rebooting. When things get tough, when you stare at the blank screen, (where is that damn charger?) with your back against the wall, just write about dog farts.