Thursday, November 30, 2006

Attack of the Winter Maudlins

I get out of the truck and shrug my jacket on, patting for my wallet before heading into the store in the thin early morning light. A man sitting in a parked truck glances at me, glances away. I consider the fact that I possibly look even less feminine this morning than usual, bundled against the sudden winter air, in my Wranglers and boots and t-shirt over a thermal undershirt, all wrapped in a canvas coat. The bra is the single concession to my gender, although it's not visible through the layers. At least my ponytail is straight this morning, the rest of my hair not overly disheveled.

Out of nowhere I wonder if my father would be disappointed, if the sight of me would make him cringe a little at the reminder of his dyke daughter, rather than spurring a little twinge of whatever that feeling is when you see your child unconsciously emulating you. Even when the child is pushing 40. Because I have seen him on mornings like this, in a jacket like this, in boots like these, watched him get out of his truck and blow into his hands and set his face against the cold like this, setting about what needed doing.

I recognize him in myself, unexpectedly, seeing without a mirror the same weight behind the eyes, the same set of the jaw, understanding with a jolt the resignation contouring his face from time to time.

That, to me, is what adulthood means. Suddenly realizing you understand the choices your parents made because you're facing the same things in your own life. Realizing, despite how insane you thought they were way back when, your parents were just people doing the best they could with what they were dealt in this world with its infinite shades of gray, so different from childhood's simple blacks and whites.

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