Dear Morning Air,
Do you remember that morning?
It wasn’t a sad kind of grey, as I walked out of the cabin. It felt like the world had revolved one-hundred times without me. The trees had sunk back from last night’s high tide. The sky felt only eight feet from the ground and bound to fall any moment. Somehow, all existed both wet and dusty. Sweet fir and sand scent stuck to vinyl tents and wire traps like the dew. I felt like I was living a memory, a sort of distance between the world and me. A soundless noise brushed across the morning. The seconds were sipped alone from Styrofoam cups filled with tin can coffee. The overcast painted creation as a film noir in two-thirds motion.
My dad rustled the world a bit more awake as he dug for his pocket knife. A hard-plastic shell and a polished steel blade no longer than the length of a Dorito, that knife was a symbol of manhood, a trophy of maturity, a badge of excellence, and an ID for the brawny and true. I was secretly glad my mother refused to let me get one. I knew I didn’t deserve to be amongst the brave who toted such prizes. None the less, I watched with awe, feigning disinterest, as my father carved open a militant package of hot-dogs. It was just my father, the dew, the hot dogs, and me, the biggest weenie of them all.
All the other boys and their father were hunting. Someone’s dad got a permit, so earlier that morning, all the other duos marched off to war. I sat in that chair wishing I could jump into the latent pit and float as a smoke spiral home. I hated camping, I hated hunting, I hated those stupid, smelly, fleshy hot dogs. With his prodding, the fire from the night before cracked knuckles and rose into suffocated sky. Crags of charcoal broke apart to reveal a raucous orange stomach.
Since our time together, I never learned to love hunting, but I learned how to love my dad. I knew I was never the son he had hoped for. I am not an athlete. I prefer red wine over beer. I can’t use a drill or sharpen a knife. I will never be a womanizer in any capacity. But when I have broken apart, I can paint myself together with red nail polish and rise from the ashes of sick burns and disses. My tongue, when twisted into knots on others or my own accord, will fall out to distract the foe and regrow like a lizard’s tail. I think my father, after years of watching from behind the brush, learned how to respect who I was becoming. Maybe as a hunter, he had to acknowledge prey that could outsmart its predator.
I hope you are well.