This Is Not Like Those Old AT&T Commercials

I did an interview yesterday and the writer asked if, in my work moving forward, I would continue the exploration of my family’s history I’d begun in Temple. I said a slow and hesitant yes, because what I’m thinking of doing makes me nervous and wonder if I shouldn’t, which probably means I should.

In 2016, I released A Man Alive— about my dad, our estrangement, and the turmoil and turbulence of growing up with and without him. In my adulthood I’ve probably spoken to him 8 or 9 times, with years in between each (brief) conversation.

A few months ago, I called my dad, and I recorded it. I didn’t ask his permission because he owes me one. I thought perhaps I wanted to start learning more about him, about his time in the war, maybe his childhood, things I know nothing about.

I wanted to talk to him because the breadth of Covid was influencing even the imprudent inertia of estrangement. I was thinking: if something happens to him, I will have wished I’d reached out.

His voice is something that has caused me great sorrow and anxiety throughout my life. When I was a kid and then a teenager I would long to hear it and he would never call. Then I’d inure myself enough to his absence to get by and the phone would ring and it would be him and I would be wrecked. I wanted to capture his voice on my terms so I could sample it, manipulate it, and control how and when I heard it.

My hope was and is that working with his voice will help me become re-acquainted and comfortable with it. I can de-fang it, de-mystify it, and de-sensitive myself enough to it so I can call him more frequently and ask him questions about his life.

Slow going ha.

Sending my best,

-t