When I was twelve my dad left, except he didn’t actually leave. He bought a cot and moved in to the unfinished section of our basement. He came up to shower and dress for work, and to eat. For six years he did this, and then I moved out and he claimed my old bedroom for his own. It’s where he stays to this day.
It’s cluttered and grimy and nasty.
My parents are still married. I’m divorced. I do not understand why they are still married. Except that my dysfunctional dad has to have someone to take care of him and my mom believes this is her lot in life. Or something. Maybe she doesn’t even care at all and figures the leftovers have eaten themselves. I have no idea.
It happened in a cliché childhood moment. I had begged my dad to take a day off and accompany my 8th Grade Journalism class to the city for a photography lesson. My dad dabbled in photography.
He was quite good, actually.
Then his company downsized, he was laid off, and then he moved into the basement. Six years later my mom took the blame, illness and whatnot, but by then I was already gone and it no longer mattered.
I still blame myself.
Before then he wasn’t exactly kind and loving. He was raised by a woman who didn’t particularly care for children, loud and whatnot, but didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, times and all, and raised three children with an alcoholic, night-shift working, absent husband.
I should never have been born.
To this day he isolates himself in his room—my room, the room I learned to read in, to masturbate in, to cry in. And I hate him for it.
Even though he tries to be dad-like.
The conversation at the dinner table, the carefree-ness of weekend soccer games with coolers full of Country Time Lemonade at the end, the innocence of childhood—they all disappeared in an instant.