Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home and Feeling Like a Lousy Dad

Well, here I go again. I just got home from a fantastic trip to the jungle and mountains and already I'm messing up. And I don't like myself for it.
     The trip was great. I will write something about what the medicine told me tomorrow, or soon. But for now I want to talk about my beautiful daughter, Madeleina.
     While I was gone she wrote me a few fantastic emails. The first, titled Bad News, told me that when she was at the house feeding Boots the Wonderdog and the Cat, Cat or Kitty, just a week or so after I left town, she noticed water coming out of the hot water heater closet. So she opened the closet and realized the fairly new hot water heater was leaking. "Sorry to have to give you bad news but it's leaking and you better do something about it or the house is going to start sinking again," she wrote (or something close to it). She was referring to the time a few years ago when I didn't realize the darned thing was pouring hot water out under the house for a week, which sunk one of the posts this old place sits on, cracking a major beam which dropped the house a full inch on one side, which caused ruptures in the floor and a small tear in the roof. I've never fixed it but certainly don't want things any more uneven around here so I called Italo and told him to shut the water to the house down.
    "Taken care of, dad."
    "Well, make sure it is...."
    "I said it's taken care of, okay?"
      Italo doesn't like to be double-checked.
     One of Madeleina's other notes made a joke about living at Chepa's while I'm not here. It was something like, "Dad, I don't mind visiting the zoo now and then, but I really don't like living in the cage with the animals..."
      But about three weeks ago she stopped writing. I don't go to the internet cafe often when I'm in Peru but it was strange that she just stopped writing and didn't answer any of my notes.
      When I came home yesterday she was waiting for me. She gave me a hug and asked if I wanted a hot shower.
      "Nice one, girl, considering we have no water at all..."
      She walked to the kitchen and turned the hot water on. "Hotter than anything you had in that cold-water flat in Iquitos, dad..."
       Then she showed me the new hot water heater. "How the heck did that happen?" I asked.
      "You have a son named Italo who happens to love you very much," she said.
      And that's the kind of love she gave me all day. And we had a great time while I unpacked and showed her the beautiful things I brought home for her and everyone. She ooh'd and aah'd at the food stuffs and medicines that Customs--after putting me in a holding room for an hour or two--allowed me to bring in, from sacha jergon for my friend who has cancer to kidney stone medicine for someone who has a friend who suffers a lot,  to lots of the Matses medicines sapo and nu-nu, to hot sauce I'd made and fish sauce and essense of camu-camu the wonderful vitamin C berry. Lots of things they sometimes take away when entering Miami. And she suffered with me when I told her they'd once again confiscated the ayahuasca, despite it having a label of something else--they knew I was lying. Nuts.
     "Sorry dad. Next time you better tell the medicine to protect itself because we're running low here and if you have another gathering of former guests and more than maybe 12 or 15 come, well, there won't be enough."
      "Well, at least the mushrooms got through for a few people who need them...."
      "Were they powerful this time?"
      "They are fantastic..."
      "That's good. I hate you taking chances at the border and then they don't work for people."
      It was just that kind of day. She was interested in the trip, the guests, the whole thing. She laughed at a story I told when she asked if I had a lot of women and I said no--truthfully--"but there was one transvestite incident which might embarrass the family..." and told her how one night, after a few drinks but not drunk, the sexiest young lady with the most gorgeous legs I've ever seen sidled up to the next table and asked if I wanted company. I said: "By all means....and if you're really a woman, I think I'm in for a fantastic night... On the other hand, if you're a man, well, we're gonna have a different situation..."
      "Oh, god, Dad. Why did you think that?"
      "Because she was sexier than women are. She moved like a man's fantasy. She had no beard, no adam's apple, slender fingers, a woman's voice....but she was almost too sexy to be a woman..."
      "So what did you do?"
      "Well, I said let's go to my place and when we got around the corner I said: "Look, I don't want sex with you. I just want half-an-hour to play with those legs. To touch them, that's it. Okay?"
      "Dad, you are so freaking gross! Why do you tell me these things?"
      "Because I'm teaching you to grow up by letting you in on what people really do."
      "Okay okay. Just finish the story..."
      "Well, just as we're about to get into a motorkar Christina--that was her name--leans close and says 'I'm really a tranny'"
       "And did you feel up his legs anyway?"
      "No way!"
      "Why not, dad? I mean you said they were so beautiful..."
      "Well on a woman they were fantastic! On a man they were like girly legs, kind of creepy if you know what I mean..."
        And she roared. What a glorious night of storytelling and talking of old friends she knows and of looking at presents and smelling spices and good good chocolate.
       Then this morning happened.
       Madeleina was up for about two hours and watching television when I told her to turn the TV off and take care of homework if she had any. She said she did, then made soup and kept watching television while she made it and ate it--slowly.
       It got under my skin just a little because she didn't start making the soup till I reminded her of homework.
       Then Chepa called and mentioned that Madeleina had missed the last two weeks of school because the was ill. Now Madeleina had told me she'd had a physical issue with her stomach but didn't mention missing school. Chepa also said that after the first week, when doctors figured out what was wrong and suggested how to alleviate the problem--I will not embarrass my Madeleina by going into it but it was one of a myriad of problems a teenager might have that would keep them from wanting to be around their peers and it did not involve sex of any sort at all--the solutions produced side effect that were worse than the problem, keeping her out the second week. So Chepa had gotten her homework for the first week so she wouldn't fall behind.
      I called Madeleina in and asked how come she didn't mention being out of school for two full weeks.
      "I thought mom told you."
     "She did, just now. You didn't. How's the homework?"
     "Did about half last week, dad."
     "Well, get on it. And then do the work the docs said to do, even if you hate it. And no more TV. Just get the work done."
     It went downhill fro there. I got on her case for loafing. I told her that if she was so stressed by going to school that she made herself ill then she should recognize it and deal with it instead of hiding behind watching television or youtube all the time. I told her I loved her but needed to be tough because last semester she fell so far behind in school work--partly because of the demands of marching band--that Chepa and I had to give her four days off to catch up and I was not going to let that happen again. In other words, I was exhausted and jet-lagged and just ruined everything by being honest but not nearly gentle enough. I messed up. And that gave her a headache, which caused her to go to sleep, which prevented her from doing any homework or getting any exercise. I took the fun away. And I knew when I did that it was wrong to do that. Anyone who would take the laughter out of a child is doing something wrong--and I knew I was. And I told her I was sorry but I knew it was late for that, at least for today.
     So she asked to go to Chepa's. She just didn't want to be in the cage with this animal any longer.


Graccus said...

Give my love to that rascally Madeleina from Mike from July. Your coming home stories remind me of my two daughters, one 25, the other 35 teasing their folks recently by high fiving each other on surviving various dangers of teen age hood. Emphasis on the word hood. "Hey, we didn't get pregnant. Yeah, high five! Hey we didn't get addicted, High Five! Hey, no major car accidents, high five!" Like in any hood often the safest course is to become a hood-lum, which my girls and one boy didn't have to do. That age especially nowadays must seem rather like hiking across the worst parts of some war torn country, taking some smarts to survive, and nothing looking too pretty for long term survival. But then they usually get on that plane back home to their nerve wracked parents. Love you guys.

Unknown said...

Love the blog, thanks for all the stories. A lot of people out there are rooting for you!