Saturday, February 21, 2009

why i will always love ferris wheels

(image via kleiobird's flickr)

It must have been October and I was still just thirteen and I hadn't seen my father since the heat of that August that had just passed, when we seemed to have lost everything, when everything changed forever. I was living apart from him, he was traveling and wandering, trying to get his shit together, I guess. We talked on the phone, but it was sporadic, and I think maybe I was just trying to make things work with where I was, the best way I knew how. I didn't think I missed him, I didn't think he mattered too much, I thought I could get along just fine without him. And then that October he unexpectedly came to town to visit. The relatives I was living with were upset, agitated. They didn't like him, didn't understand him, didn't trust him. He had to ask their permission to take his daughter out. Just a few hours, he promised. I didn't even know if I wanted to go. We got in his car and drove. I don't think he knew where to take me, I don't think we talked about it. But we just drove, and without knowing it was going on, we passed the county fair, and he turned to me and said quietly, let's go. It was dusk and the sky was a pulpy red and pink and purple. People and voices and music and lights were everywhere. We walked around. He tried to say things and just seemed unable to, I tried to say things back and just couldn't. We stood in front of the ferris wheel and watched it, all lit up against the slowly darkening sky. We stayed quiet, and then he said, lets ride it. I said okay, even though I was nervous. We sat close together but I felt so far away from him. But then we went around and around, and maybe because we were far up and away from everything, maybe because it was just him and I sitting so close, maybe because I looked at him and saw my own chin, my own eyes, my own mouth...but we started to talk and couldn't seem to stop. He said so many things that mattered and so did I. The wheel went round and round, and the sky darkened and the air cooled and the stars came out. It was time to go, time to get me back. He drove slowly, and I watched the sidewalks and the treetops and the stoplights, and in his old beat up car, with the windows rolled down, I knew I couldn't get along without him.