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Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Practical Birthday

by Steven P. Velasquez
Oct. 7, 2011

Few people in my life know that I’ve made some changes over the recent past and fewer still know why.  Suffice it to say the reasons are personal and it matters not who’s at fault.  When it comes to human relationships and parenting, the only people that truly matter are the children and immediate family members. 

A little over a week ago while my Facebook account was blowing up with literally hundreds of birthday wishes (which I truly appreciate and admit they helped me greatly while dealing with said issue), my life at home had finally burst at the seams and required drastic change.  It was time to leave.  That realization was made years ago, but for reasons economic had not yet manifested.  Now, ready or not, it had just become too much and required immediate action.  Fortunately, thank God, my parents were kind enough to open their arms and say “Come home son.”

Pay no attention to the man 
behind the curtain
After working a night shift, I had spent the entire day (my birthday) loading a trailer with my immediate needs, my laptop, camera equipment, toiletries, lots of uniforms and a few civilian clothes.  Like a refugee fleeing a hostile government, I packed what I could fit and travelled north.  I couldn’t care less about moving away from the person I was living with but was absolutely devastated over the idea of leaving my four year-old daughter as this seemingly repeating pattern had happened once before when her older sister was five.  The tearing at my heart was unbearable and balanced only by the occasional glances at my phone and the constant deluge of kind words and birthday wishes.  I didn’t want to ruin it by posting something like “please stop wishing me a happy birthday, I’m moving out and leaving my daughter today,” so I just kept replying with the thank you’s and expressions appreciative.  Like the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain, I hid behind the veneer of my beaming smile on my Facebook profile pic, all the while huddled in a corner, saddened and unsure of how I was going to handle this.  I missed my baby already.

I got home and my parents and sister greeted me with open arms and heavy hearts themselves as they wondered; “What about the baby? When will we see her?”  I reassured them, all would be fine.  My phone kept vibrating and chiming; “Have a great birthday, hope you’re spending the day smiling with family and friends!”  “Happy birthday big guy, hope you’re not working like always!”  Yes I am.  I worked the night before, am moving all day today, and will return to work tonight again.

Photo: The Trundle Bed Store
My parents tried to make me comfortable and cleaned out my childhood bedroom that was now their office and place for all things preparatory (ironing, makeup, hair etc…).  We went to the basement and retrieved one of the trundle beds I had purchased for my older daughters and assembled it hastily.  My mother purchased new bedding material for my birthday in an effort to give me a “practical” gift.  Funny thing about getting older, you go from getting awesome gifts like toys, and things you can play with to toiletries, clothing and – bedding materials.  Practical.

The tree comes to life and plucks
the little boy from his bedroom
window in the 1982 movie "Poltergiest"

The following day, I returned to Rutherford with another truck load of stuff and was ready to get some shut-eye & test my new “practical” sheets.  The bed was positioned beneath the window I used to look out at in terror during hurricanes and storms as the tree-branches seemed to come to life and want to reach in and grab me (too much watching “Poltergeist” I suppose).  The window I used to dream beneath on a winter’s night when, if you listened closely enough, the Christmas arrangement of illuminated bells would issue a soft ding dong sound as their filaments waxed and waned with transient bursts of energy.  The window where I made a heinous discovery one Christmas Eve!  Riddled with anxiousness, I couldn’t sleep and eagerly awaited the sound of hoof-prints on my rooftop.  Instead, I heard the opening and closing trunk of the 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlas Supreme (gold with a black vinyl rooftop), not a single tiny reindeer to be found.  When what to my wondering eyes did appear? The stark realization that I had been betrayed all these years! Santa Claus, Saint Nick, the jolly old elf that was supposed to drop down my chimney was dressed as a Peruvian factory worker!  Eh, that’s ok, he still brought me cool, exciting, non-practical gifts.

It's good to be home.

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