The effective end of my son’s 20th birthday, at 7:31pm, without having heard from him, just brings to mind James Thurber’s epigram: “The world is full of such a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings–and you know how happy kings are.”
I suppose there was a time when I believed that I was a wonderful father and that my relationship with my son was the greatest success story of my life… but like so many optimistic thoughts I’ve had in life, it hasn’t worked out that way, much to my sorrow.
I suppose one reason I am so obsessed with the movie Moonrise Kingdom (I have totally lost track of how many times I’ve seen it, possibly a dozen), is that it’s mythological “Age of Innocence” reminds me so much of the world of my own childhood, and how I wish I could have given my son a world as pure and innocent as that world back in an America where it was normal, rather than abnormal/bordering on pathological, to be white and Christian and basically unaware of anything else…. as it seems in Wes Anderson’s movie to have been in 1965, and as it was in my early experience not long after that….
In essence, I married very poorly: a woman who desperately wanted to conform to all the worst norms of modern society while pretending to support all the most traditional values in order to get what she wanted. All of this was perfectly acceptable behavior by modern standards—but I am sorry that I couldn’t give my son a far better life and childhood than I had, which was always my dream for him. In the words of the guardian of Petra—Cave of the Holy Grail, in “Indian Jones and the Last Crusade”—“I chose poorly” at least when it came to making a home and a good life for my boy.
I also allowed my marriage to be drawn into the horrible quagmire of the Texas Family Court system—there’s no good solution for Texas Family Court Judges and lawyers except, without exception, to hang them all—in true Shakespearean fashion and with full sixteenth Elizabethan gore—possibly hang the Family Judges AFTER boiling them in oil—something like that…. forget the Eighth Amendment for the lot of them….
I think that the summary execution courts the “revolution” set up in New York City during “Batman: Dark Knight Rises”—are a good model for disposing of the Family Courts…. and yet there are even deeper problems leading to my 18 month estrangement from my son now….
My son and I were extremely close from one hour after his birth, but especially during about the time he was 1 and first started walking and saying “Da-Da-Da Daddy” in our apartment at 225 Atlantic in Palm Beach 33480, precisely on his first birthday through his 10th birthday…and most of his tenth year until Memorial Day Weekend 2001.
The best of the early years were probably 1996-1999 when we traveled constantly together, several times to the Texas State Fair in Dallas (and to visit his grandma Alice and great-grandma Helen in Highland Park), innumerable times to the beach in Galveston, where we spent most of the summer of 1997. We had one marvelous trip to Disneyland when he was five (January 1998)—it was a perfect age—he asked if the Mickey Mouse figure walking around was real—.
In the summer of 1998 we had a long trip through the Southwest, leaving through Palo Duro Canyon near Lubbock and going on to Pecos, Santa Fe, Taos, Chaco Canyon, the San Juan River Valley, the Hopi Plateau, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon, returning through Amarillo and trying our luck at the gigantic 72 oz “free” steak at the Texas Steak House….
The same summer we followed up by a trip to Chicago—I’ll never forget our gigantic room at the Chicago Hilton overlooking Grant Park and Michigan Avenue, or receiving the news of the 1998 attacks on the American Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam while we were there. 1999 was our summer first season in Yucatan, Mexico since Spring 1995—we stayed at the dearly beloved “Capitán Lafitte” by the Caribbean…..
After May 2003, “domestic troubles between his mother and me” separated us for two solid years until June 2005 (after which two year time he had grown so much I didn’t recognize him when he stopped me on the street) and then again our interaction was “spotty” at best until 2008-2009, when we spent two successive summers in Cambridge while he went to the Harvard Summer School. In 2007-2010 I was living mostly either in Galveston or New Orleans and Charlie was a great fan of both the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas there….
In the Summer of 2010 we spent a lot of time after his high school graduation in Texas and then took a trip to California right before he started Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and boy I was proud to see him there. After that, we went to New Orleans and spent Christmas there, with his mother Elena and grandmother Nina, oddly enough…. for the first time in so many years… It seemed as though our Broken Family was on the mend…..for about six weeks anyhow….maybe less….
Around February 2011 some strange things started happening and I haven’t seen him since then. In essence, I suspect it was his mother playing games again to turn him against me. I had hope that once he was an adult (2010) he’d grow away from her sphere of absolute control, but life is not a fairy tale I guess and not everything ends “happily ever after.” Charlie’s mother (Elena) and maternal grandmother (Nina) reduced Charlie’s uncle George (Kourembanas) to the status of an extremely strong but confused child for all of his adult life, and ultimately George died a premature death in January 2010 at the not so ripe or old age of 51. I had always feared that similar things might happen to Charlie, but I hoped he had escaped….until now.
Nevertheless, my son is and always will be the apple of my eye, my primary hope for immortality, and I think of him constantly, so even during these odd periods of engineered estrangement I am thinking of him constantly.
Modern marriage is basically a travesty. Women are taught to demand everything and give nothing to their husbands by feminism, socialism, social-workers, psychologists, and other single mothers who eschew marriage all together and regard men merely as “sperm donors” who, for some reason, may become immediately indebted for all they are worth to the sperm donees.
The notion of “til death do you part” is almost a joke, although my wife, Charlie’s mother and I, had given each other blood oaths never to divorce and leave Charlie alone…. We had massive troubles in 1995-1999 but seemed by the end of 1999 to have come through them, only to see everything rise up again in the summer of 2002, uglier and more vicious than ever.
We are all products of our time and culture. The government fears strong families and strong individuals because strong families and strong individuals do not need to be dependent on the government, but the government wants EVERYONE to be dependent and subservient.
I strongly advocate the abolition of the Family Courts and “Domestic Relations and Child Support” social service structures in the United States—not their reformation but their absolute abolition.
The strength of an institution ( such as marriage ) is tested out and defined by it’s reaction under stress. In the old days couples in marital trouble went to their families and their priests for resolution. Marital contracts were treated as private matters. These days 501(c)(3) priests and pastors are afraid of stepping on the toes of social services and the courts, and if family members get involved they are likely to be arrested and/or accused of “abuse”…. or worse…
The intervention of the State and Social welfare services is a large part of what has made marriage a travesty, starting with the licensing procedure. But basically I conclude that the state controlled marriage contract as enforced today is basically a sex for sale and breeding contract. Prenuptial private marital contracts are frowned upon and the state imposes (through the family and domestic relations codes) is a “one size fits all contract of adhesion” regarding which parties cannot even contract around. And it is not just my experience — it is the experience of hundreds, maybe thousands of men and women I have talked to.
One of my best friends on the Planet, Dr. Kathy Ann Garcia-Lawson of Palm Beach Gardens, is a psychologist, but frankly, I see no value in the professions of psychology or psychiatry—at least not of the Freudian variety. Jungian “racial archetypes” and the racial subconscious may hold some validity but Freudian analysis, for all its mass appeal, seems basically to be “analysis in the service of the socialist state”—my grandmother Helen Meyer described psychiatrists and psychologists as “a bunch of filthy minded perverts who worked to pervert everyone else”—and my experience has done little to dissuade me from her way of thinking.
My dear friend Kathy is such a radical exception to the Freudian norm—she is a Christian and an ethical believer in the family—I’m not sure how she survives in the profession of psychology….but she does, quite distinguished in fact….
And in the years 2008-2010 Charlie and I even visited Kathy several times at her beautiful home in Palm Beach Gardens—and it’s beyond my ability to believe that I have not seen my son for a solid year and a half now—although never a day goes by that I’m not thinking of him and hardly a week goes by that I don’t try to reach him by multiple e-mails or phone calls.
Since Charlie seems to want his privacy on his 20th birthday I guess I’ll let him have it…. but that can’t stop me from missing him and thinking about him and wishing he were here in California so we could either go out to the Islands or up to the Mountains to Yosemite or Sequoia or down to Baja, or further…..
Family estrangement is a terrible thing, but it seems almost “normal” in the modern world…. and for that alone, the Brave New World is indeed an accursed place….