The life I never had


(This is one of the later monologues. While plotted it deals more with internal ideas rather than typical plot devices Ė seeking an overall emotional impact.)


I came back to Paterson looking for my fatherís house

††††††††††† The Street had become a ghetto in the year since his fleeing it, full of graffiti and crack phials, and the same sense of hopelessness I felt.

††††††††††† And yet some where in its ruins, I hoped to dig up artifacts to a life I never had.

††††††††††† My wife no middle class white man had any business going to a neighborhood like this unless he intended suicide.

††††††††††† Perhaps she was right.

††††††††††† I just couldnít think of another place that would help me fill the emptiness space I felt inside of me.

††††††††††† My father, of course, had hated this place, and had worked extremely hard to get us out of it before any of us were old enough to go to school.

††††††††††† So I had only vague memories of actually spending time here.

††††††††††† Most of my memories were of the Wayne house to which my father had fled, where we had front and back yard, and attended schools where teachers did not need to wear bullet proof vests.

††††††††††† My father also worked hard to make certain I didnít turn out the way he had Ė hating many of the families in the old neighborhood, who wanted their kids to come out as the working class carbon copies of themselves.

††††††††††† He wanted me to do well in school so I could find a job where I didnít have to break my back to earn a living.

††††††††††† I didnít hate him for it the way some kids did their parents. I had no artistic ambitions parents generally called impractical. I was merely an empty vessel into which my parents poured their own frustrated dreams.

††††††††††† If pushed to name what I wanted, I might have preferred becoming the carbon copy my father so dreaded for me.

††††††††††† He had found his place in the world, built a moderate dream house in which to live out the rest of his life.

††††††††††† My world was a blank canvas upon which I was expected to sketch out an ambitious future.

††††††††††† I lacked even the faint outlines of the old neighborhood against which my father had rebelled.

††††††††††† I felt unbearable porous, a sponge absorbing other peopleís wishes, accepting rituals of life without fully understanding their significance. School, job, even marriage signified nothing.

††††††††††† Even then I ached for substance.

††††††††††† Sure, I felt proud when I became the first person in my family to graduate college Ė but it was a pride reflected in my fatherís eyes.

††††††††††† And when I married, I found a woman very much like mom.

††††††††††† None of it felt like mine to keep, everything pouring into me seeping out through some unknown leak leaving me emptier than when I started.

††††††††††† When my father became too old to pour his ideas into me, my wife took over the job insisting we needed a bigger house, a more expensive car and a grand career when I really didnít care. While friends and neighbors admired me, down deep I felt like a phony.

††††††††††† Thatís when I made up my mind to find something real, digging down deep into myself to find something that I actually wanted for myself.

††††††††††† I went places and did things that I thought would spark some primal memory.

††††††††††† My wife was thrilled, believing I had finally found the ambition she always wanted me to have.

††††††††††† But each thing seemed emptier than the last. I found only the ashes of other peopleís burning desires.

††††††††††† My everyday life went to hell after that.

††††††††††† I drank a little too much, bickered too much with my boss and my wife,† and showed so little interest in everything I had that my wife threatened divorce.

††††††††††† So I came back to Paterson Ė to where my father started and the world out of which he had shaped his dreams.

††††††††††† I hoped to find that first foundation upon which both of our lives were built, so that I might start again and build the life I never had.



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