About the Author
TweetHeart - A Twitter Novel By Douglas Sovern
CHAPTER ELEVEN: November
Too many months have gone by where I’ve forgotten 2 say that on the first day & look where it’s gotten me.
He’s afraid of me.
I’ve figured it out.
That’s what it comes down to.
My own father is afraid of me.
He’s afraid of my dready hair.
He’s afraid I’m going 2 give him Hep C, or worse, AIDS, which he’s sure I must have by now.
He’s afraid I’m going 2 bring my infested/infected/disaffected/uninvested life in2 his pristine/suburban/bottled-up/buttoned-down existence.
He’s even afraid of my goddamn dog, the sweetest, most adorable & loving pit mix ever, the irrepressible & eminently huggable Milo.
He just wants me 2 go away.
He’ll give me money, he’ll give me clothing, he’ll give me a phone number, he just won’t give me hope.
Or a hug.
Or a kiss.
Or any of the things that a confused & struggling daughter expects to get from her father.
Like I said a long time ago, u want unconditional love?
Get a dog.
Cuz there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get it from those what birth you.
The Diablo winds are blowing in, hot & fierce & roaring.
Everything’s all a-skitter.
The animals of the woods are hunkered down.
I & Milo are out on the trail, letting the wind whip my hair until the tears burst from my eyes.
Milo bites at the bigger gusts.
It happens every fall around here.
Hot air, high wind, maybe even a fire or 2 or 3.
Nature wipes everything clean after the long dry summer.
Then the rains come.
Wash it all away.
The long coldwater rinse of what passes for winter around here.
Then start fresh in the spring.
I bet it rains tomorrow. It’s time 4 the cleansing 2 begin.
I feel it in my knotty arm & my sick liver & my addled brain.
And in my heart.
Each day is another step toward a new beginning.
Each morning I wake up is a gift. OK, so maybe not the one I asked 4 or wanted.
When I was a kid I would circle all the presents I wanted in the catalogues.
Then Dad would ignore my scribbles & get me something else.
He gives me what he is able 2 give. I have 2 keep telling myself that. Accept it & give thanks. Then go out & get what u need somewhere else.
I have been up all night biting my nails - till I’m biting my skin - till I’m licking the blood off.
Yeah yeah, hella gross I know.
The line of my recovery isn’t straight up u know.
It’s squiggly & it bends this way & that.
Some days are better than some days.
Had a long talk last night w/my Dad about fear.
He doesn’t. I anguish.
He can’t wait till we’re done talking.
He is in so much denial about so many things.
All he cares about is money, what’s his, & what someone might try to take from him.
I told him, I’m trying 2 live a good life, 2 be a good person, and he can help me with that.
I don’t think he wants that responsibility.
We do both want the same thing though: for people 2 leave us alone & let us be who we are.
I guess we need to start with each other.
I’m developing a new appreciation for my stepmother Marla.
She was all scary at first w/the crazy nails & hair & all, but she ain’t so bad.
It turns out this woman does have a soul buried beneath all that tragic fashion.
She’s trying to broker détente between me & Dad.
I haven’t told her about my fling with Jason yet but I have a feeling she knows.
Any1 who looks back at my tweets will know.
Jason’s coming home 4 Thanksgiving, things could be a little weird.
That’s assuming I am part of this family 4 Thanksgiving. Not a given.
Marla really does seem 2 care & u can tell it breaks her heart that Dad & I misunderstand each other so much.
She & I have been talking a lot about positive energy: finding where Dad & I connect, not where we diverge.
We need to identify & celebrate what we have in common, not wallow in the drama of our differences.
The trick is 2 tear Dad away from the stock charts & the Sportscenter & get him 2 join our touchy feely circle of love.
Staying sober isn’t easy. I knew that already of course but I am reminded of it hella often. The wagon is so wobbly it’s easy to tumble off.
I drank 1 of my little vodka bottles last night.
Called Don, my AA sponsor. First time I’ve ever needed him 2 talk me down.
He’s so calm & soothing, has a perspective on life that I can’t wait 2 have.
Yes, he said, sometimes it’s one step back, or even two.
The trick is 2 put the brakes on, stop the slide & get yr feet moving forward again.
Until you get 2 the point where u only go 1 direction.
It takes time, it will take more than 1 or 2 or even 3 trips to rehab, but if u want it, when u get 2 the point when u have to, u can do it.
That’s a big word I haven’t been ready 2 wrap my mind around.
Isn’t therapy, AA, medication, confronting my Dad, isn’t that enough?
Don & Dante both said the exact same thing: maybe it is & maybe it isn’t.
Especially when dealing w/Dad drives me to fucking drink.
Taking Milo 4 a long walk all along Telegraph, thru campus, all our old haunts.
I think maybe he recognizes some of the old smells.
He scampers & skips & sniffs & pees on things, re-marking old territory, spaces that used to be his.
It seems like so long ago.
That patch of concrete used to be my bed.
That curb was my couch.
That oil-stained asphalt, my front lawn.
I see a woman who reminds me of me.
Hair out of control, wild eyes, but u could tell she was smart & had it together once upon a time.
I gave her my crooked smile & a wave & she looked right past me, didn’t see that we were sisters of the street.
She’s focused on 1 thing & 1 thing only & it’s taking everything I can muster not to walk with her & go looking for it too.
Dante wouldn’t like me being down here, he doesn’t think I’m strong enuf but this is my own form of therapy & I think it’s working.
Milo saw a couple of dogs he used to know, beautiful little gray pitbulls.
A whole lotta sniffin’ & a few moments of happy frolicking.
Ran into Bone – same old Bone, listening to the news booming out of his shopping cart radio.
Biggest news of all: rayRay is out.
We found him soon enuf, down by 7-11, smoking American Spirits & texting.
rayRay finally got a smart phone.
OK so it’s hot – it has “I love you Maria” engraved on the back. I’m pretty sure that’s not a name he picked up in prison. Least I hope not.
He says he can finally follow my tweets now & join my Twitterverse, get inside my head. I warned him, it’s hella weird in here!
We gotta lotta catchin up to do.
I’ll hit you back later, tweeps.
It was good 2 see rayRay again.
We will always be friends, I think. The world sees a scruffy scrawny punk but I see his heart.
My shit is slowly coming together. My proverbial act is getting cleaned up. It ain’t scrubbed squeaky & spotless. I doubt it ever will be.
I like my friends on the street.
They gave me a place to be myself.
Yes life is rough out there but it felt safer than home.
I have new perspectives on what that word means.
Is my dad’s house my home? Dante’s?
A corner squat at Telegraph & Channing?
Milo & me have 2 think about our future. I’m pretty sure now I want one, & I want it 2 be w/Dante.
Beyond that, my mind’s not so clear yet.
Nothing’s happened between me & Dante yet.
Nothing sexual, I mean. OK he’s turning hella red now if he’s reading this.
I want it to.
That’s where I want home to be – wherever we are, us together.
I hope he’s not just doing a dance to make me get straight.
I can’t say we’d definitely make it the second time around but dude – I want another shot, and I think I’ve earned it.
Ah, dinner at Dad’s, a neverending tragicomedy.
Marla insisted I come eat w/them last night. I made Becca come too.
It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor cuz w/o it I would probly kill myself. Oh wait I tried that already. See what I mean? U laughing?
Gotta give Dad credit, he’s trying real hard, as hard as he knows how.
He’s just so awkward & uncomfortable with me.
He actually let Milo come in the house this time & lie by my feet.
That’s a start.
Milo was tense & nervous though, he senses the energy.
Dad tried 2 make small talk at dinner, talking in circles around anything important or meaningful.
Many uneasy lulls.
I brought up #OccupyOakland & now #OccupyCal & talked about the mood on the street & he just went off about “these spoiled kids” & “vandals.”
That got a little ugly til Marla made us stop. I said now u know why it’s better 2 keep us separated! She said let’s just keep things light.
Which is a joke.
Life is anything but light these days & the only way Dad & I will ever get anywhere is if we do some really hard work.
My life with him has been an exercise in avoidance.
I’m ready to do what I have to do now but I don’t see that he is.
How ironic that suddenly I’m the mature one, the one with enuf distance & perspective to handle the situation.
I feel sorry 4 him.
I will just keep telling myself 2 accept him 4 who he is & ask him 2 afford me the same courtesy: let me be me. Could take a while.
Like I said, it’s a laugh riot around here! I have 2 look at it that way. If I don’t I will start 2 cry again & this time I will never stop.
I have a strange sense of calm.
The world is crashing down all around me yet somehow I am floating through on a cloud of peace.
Teargas. Collapsing economy. To hear my Dad, & actually a lot of other people too, Armageddon’s just around the corner.
But I picked up a book from 1870-something once & the same damn things were happening.
The world’s been ending 4 a long time.
I guess I’ve always been a contrarian.
I like 2 pick a fight 4 the sake of it.
Things are good? My life goes 2 hell.
Bad? I’m all good.
It does occur 2 me that maybe those little yellow pills I’m taking have kicked in. Is it the meds or is it me? See why I fought em so long?
Whatever it is, I feel ready.
Ready 2 move forward.
Ready 2 try again w/Dante.
Ready 2 not let my Dad’s mood dictate whether I’m happy.
Ready 2 neither fear his fury nor crave his approval.
Ready 2 walk tall & not on eggshells.
Tail-wagging Milo at my side.
I know who my true family are now: Dante, Becca, Layla, rayRay, and yes even Marla, who turns out to be a hella decent egg.
I have no fixed address. I have no fixed path. But do any of us? There’s just the path we’re on at the moment, not knowing where it may lead.
Strange – I don’t feel homeless anymore.
Turns out “homeless” isn’t about not having a home - it’s about not having a community.
I had a house.
I had my Dad’s house.
I had Dante’s house.
A house is not a home; it’s just a place 2 keep your shit.
Sometimes too much shit comes with it.
I think maybe I’ll go sleep at home tonight.