Cosmic shift

21Aug11

My dad got a liver. It’s too amazing of a thing to be captured in those five words. I assumed he was just going to die while he waited. I protected myself from thinking of how bad he was and how bad his life was. I tried not to think of one of his more coherent moments when he said he might fall down the stairs because he was so physically weak, and that it might not be such a bad thing. That’s not my dad. He’s a kind, smart, melancholy, introspective, funny, artistic guy with awful handwriting, an inability to be on time, and a propensity to spill whatever beverage he drinks. But he had become nothing more than his liver disease and then almost completely succumbed to it.

It was such a mind-blowing thing that he got this thing we had spent almost two years wishing for. It felt like such a huge deal that it was almost insulting that the mundane aspects of life continued when I left the hospital. How could people be going grocery shopping when my dad had just gotten a new liver? I felt like I wanted to tell people that I didn’t even now. It was so all-consuming that it sort of messed with my mind.

Contributing to this otherworldliness is the fact that it’s always sort of a mindfuck when I go back to Ohio. There’s something so strange about returning to the place where I grew up, back to the bedroom I used to sleep in. It’s like existing in an alternate universe where I never left and my mom is somehow still the boss of me. Admittedly she still is when I’m at her house, although now it’s for the sake of peacekeeping rather than fear.

I have a love/hate relationship with Cleveland. I wanted to leave from the time I was 13 and I knew I would consider myself a failure if I didn’t. (Well with the exception of my early 20s when I would have stayed for my ex-boyfriend and somehow didn’t envision myself as a failure for considering that. When I imagined us living together in some sunny old apartment on Clifton, staying put didn’t seem so bad.) The city has awful schools, a shrinking population, horrible weather, no jobs and an infrastructure that still envisions itself as a major city despite all evidence to the contrary. And yet in some ways it feels more like me than Seattle’s ultra-hip, pretentious crowds and insanely high cost of living.

The city has amazing architecture, great old houses, an unabashedly dedicated sports fan base, real beaches, a predominately unpretentious population, thunderstorms and lightning bugs (which I got disproportionately excited about seeing). And if you’re a photography nerd that is fascinated by documenting urban decay, Cleveland is probably second only to Detroit in subject matter. It also has my parents and the older I get the more I realize how limited my time is with them.

Some side notes: The themes for my trip home were weirdness and toes.

I got into a passive aggressive fight with my seat mate on the flight home. She kept pointing her air blower thing at me instead of turning it off, so it was like I was caught in a wind tunnel. When she closed her eyes I would point it back at her, then she would do the same. She also had a little beach scene painted on each nail of her big toes, which automatically made me assume she was doing the blower thing to be an asshole. Who has time to have scenes painted on their toes but doesn’t have time to close their air blower thing?

Charlotte airport and the people in it are weird. There is an abundance of large hair, knock off voodoo dolls in the gift stores, and Indian women shilling hand sanitizer and tampons in the bathrooms. There was also a woman with nasty ass white person dreads who was letting her kid’s hair grow into dreads out of neglect. I wanted to stage an intervention. This time my seat mate had a French manicure on her toenails. She probably paid a lot of money for it but it just looked like she hadn’t cut her nails in a while.

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