What can you do if your father was a big man? You can try to be a bigger man, or you can fail. I chose to fail. It was the easier of the two options. So, I thought. Back then. Now, I know that I would have done better having tried and missed the mark.
You learn so much in hindsight.
My old man had a loud voice, one of those loud, barking laughs that makes other people step their laughing up. He was physically big, too. Tall and wide. Broad forearms crossed with thick veins, like they were used to convey milkshake from his heart to his extremities. He had broad shoulders, too. He made every chair he sat in look small and apt to break.
I disappeared into chairs, folding my body in on itself. Making myself small. My mother was so tiny you could hardly see her, sweater clutched at her neck against the chill of his all-encompassing shadow. We were gnats. We were grains of sand.
We were invisible.
Thing was, he seemed super visible. Overly visible. We didn't understand how much he kept hidden until it was too late. Until he had started a disappearing act that no one saw coming.
Now, I wrestle at night. My brain versus my heart. I try to figure out where he stopped and my idea of him began. It's a battle I'll always fight.
Maybe it's the birthright of every son, this tension. This heartbreak.