Its the day before I'm do to return to Melbourne,and that means only one thing.The speech.Pa is scheduled to come to my room a few minutes before midnight,he'll park himself on a chair or the bed and preferably somewhere comfortable where for an hour or so he'll talk about a few chosen topics,occasionally pausing to see if I'm paying attention.Any other person and I would've blatantly projected ignorance-put on my earphones,excuse myself for something,reach for the immediate exit-but Pa's speeches,as much as I pretend to not enjoy them (I'll be grunting and huffing the whole way,pretending to be immersed in packing,cleaning the room or something equally inane) but once he starts the story train its definitely a ride I can't afford to miss.His stories offer glimpses into the man my father really is,this complicated persona obscured behind a tiger-like facade.He tells me about his time as a young adult,tells me that God is the one person I can completely trust and that people are subject to change and temptation-even ourselves-and therefore can't really be depended upon.
He tells me studying business is a fine choice,because money touches everything and you have a lot of options especially at this stage in life,but its also a dangerous place.You could lose yourself,you could turn bad.People will offer you gifts and beg for favors-don't be naive to think that everyone works straight,shortcuts take you places but at the expense of something you might've fought long to keep.You lose a million bucks,you lose nothing.You lose your health,you lose something.But its when you lose your integrity,thats when you finally lose everything.It all sounds trite and obtuse,like something you could pick up from a Parenting handbook.But then he tells me about his experiences,a lot of them are dark and do not have happy endings-having traveled around the world,and met all kinds of people this is a man with a knowledge he learned himself,the hard way.
I think about the emotional whirlwind my life has been,and wonder if I have the strength to come out a winner at the end of the race.In front of Ma & Pa I might play the role of someone who is opinionated,mature and patient and I take extreme measures to hide the insecurities swimming in my dented soul.I feel inadequate to the man they've recognized me as,the hero they expect me to be-I've become so attached to the person I want to be,that I sometimes lose touch of the person I am.But lately,especially in the past year I can safely say that these two characters have had their paths arrive at some point of consensus,I am slowly growing into my potential and feel good about the direction I'm heading towards.Ma & Pa know about my imperfections,they're not ready to turn a total blind eye in favor of having the ideal son.I am not the ideal son,they love me as a human-someone with strengths and flaws.This is all part of the plan I'm in,things are changing for our family but we've also gained a sense of acceptance for the things we can't change.
Then Pa says things I normally don't expect him to-he compliments Ma with a deep,sincere sense of admiration.In the past year,their relationship has been rocky and they argue over the littlest things all the time and few months ago I mentally prepared myself for the prospect of a divorce.But I now know,things are not always what they seem and life does not come prepackaged like people tell you-its something to be observed and understood,assumptions are almost always incorrect.He tells me what a strong woman Ma is,the pain she's suffered particularly in her early career-I've come to view her as a somewhat entertaining klutz,always misplacing things,wildly disorganized at times and also full of temper but like Pa says,she's built for herself a personal strength many people aspire their whole lives to have.And despite her unpredictable moods and habit of unintentionally hurting others (Pa:"I wish she would just smile sometimes,her face is just so sour") she is a great person to know and is someone who is built like a rock,knock her down a thousand times and she'll get right back up and I don't know how she does it.Here I see the intricacies of their relationship,the twisted way it works and finally know how it has survived through years of constant bickering.
And so,I conclude that people are not paper-thin as they seem but we conveniently make judgments based on what we see.Throughout life,you're only afforded to really know a handful of people-when you're old and weary,the rest will become obsolete.And these people I greatly love,for despite the way I seem cold and unfeeling to most people I have a heart that accepts no boundaries-the love I have for my family travels deep into the centre of me,it is something that even in the darkest of times-when I've turned into everyone's enemy and when I devolve into a fool and a traitor,is something I simply cannot dispute.
I will miss these stories of Pa,and hope one day I'll have the ability to affect people the way he does.With not a flying backhand or silly speeches,but with the very person I am.