Painting of my father, Rev William Grimbol, by Jason Gorcoff

1-19-2010 Shelter Island, NY

This is how I left home.

My dad sat on the couch wearing his night shirt. Patty, his wife, sat on the recliner, dopey from pain pills, watching the home shopping network.

“Look at those earrings,” she said. “Aren’t they just exquisite?”

“I think my dad’s nightgown is exquisite. If I was to use the word exquisite for anything it would be for my father’s nightgown.”

“It’s a night shirt,” he said.

My father had a shitty smirk on his face. He was waving the phone at me.

“Have you called your aunt?” he said.

I stared at him like a deer caught in the headlights of a monster truck or a tank.

“Call your aunt,” he went on. “She just wants to talk to you before you head off to Mississippi.”

That’s where we are moving. Oxford, Mississippi. Initially Heather wanted to move to Portland Maine. After a brief visit, we decided it was a snowy hell and that we wanted to move south where it’s warmer. And I know, it’s a real random place to move, but when things are random they feel adventurous, and we like that.

My aunt gets nervous when I move. I moved to Brooklyn, New York when I was twenty. She called me ten times a day. It was horrible. It was the bad kind of love.

I didn’t want to talk to this old woman. I wanted this morning to be nice and sweet. Talking to my aunt made me feel anxious.

“Call your aunt,” my father kept saying.

Then Patty chimed in.

“She would just love it if you called.”

I had a hissy-fit and told them all to fuck off. I was really intense. There was lots of yelling.

My father stomped off to his office.

I followed.

He sat at his desk and sobbed.

“Why are you always so angry?” he kept saying. “I try so hard to be a good dad. To make this a good home for you. But you are always so angry at me.”

I tried to explain myself but it only made him more hysterical. Eventually I gave up. I sat and watched him cry and waited.

Finally he stopped blaming me for how shitty he felt and he started complaining about the usual things. His job. His sickly wife. He told me he wanted to disappear.

The crying went on for a while. Once he stopped I started to get emotional.

My father and I spent the rest of the day being a bit more loveable. I told him about my worries. How I didn’t have a job lined up, how moving to Mississippi seemed maybe a little too random. He told me he was excited for me. That I will be okay.

Now Heather and I are driving west. We aren’t going far tonight though. We want to stop in Brooklyn to see some friends.