Thursday, July 9, 2009

Part Five: You had the world inside you, man, but you did not seem to know.

A rushed painting of my dad hangin' out with Charlie Bronson.


It was Christmas Eve in 2006.

My family still lived in our house on 81 Carlton Ave in Jersey City. The house was a mighty piece of work, that looked like it dated back to the 1930s or possibly even before that. I've already written a love-blog to the house in a different blog. Maybe I'll try to find it and post it here or something another day.

I was steadily, nervously standing outside my parents room. It was a chilly night in the attic, so I decided that it was time to do it because it had been bothering me for such along time. Most of high school, in fact. The thing was that I couldn't get myself to do anything about it, despite how bad it was affecting me. Stephanie was with me that night to help steady my nerves, and without her, I would have never even taken myself seriously in doing it. But, there I was. I was standing on the dingy, brown carpet that had been installed the first week me, my mother and my dad moved into 81 Carlton Avenue fourteen years prior. (Noel wasn't born yet.) The same dingy brown carpet that I had run around on when I had nothing to do during the summers. The same brown carpet that I sat on the edge of the stairs when I tossed some action figures and toy cars down the stairs, emulating some action movie I had seen that year. I was standing outside my parents room, nervously shivering, as I peered into the crack between the door and the wall.

I was going to do it. For the first time in five years, I was going to have a real conversation with my dad.

It was 2006 and I was trying to open the door to my parents' room. It wasn't easy. I would reach for the knob. I would pull back. I would reach, then pull back. I kept fighting myself that he would make nothing of how I felt and what I thought.

"I can't do this," I thought. I walked into the bathroom. I sat on the toilet, and Stephanie followed me in. She encouraged me saying that it wouldn't go away if I didn't speak to him. As I silently cried into my hands, I re-realized that she was right. I sat there a little while as Stephanie continued rallying my spirits.

Eventually, I was back there at the space before the door, nervous and terrified.

I softly pushed open the door.

I watched my dad lying down on the bed I got my diapers changed on. My dad was lying down by himself watching television. He didn't notice the door open. He must have been interested in what he was watching.

I inched closer to the bed.

I asked my him, "Dad, can we talk?"

He asked me what was wrong.

I told him that it had been a long time since we were very close, and that it had been a long time since we talked.

I told him, "I miss you."

As I said those three words, I started to break down. My dad sat up and opened his arms for a hug. I rushed towards him as my nineteen-year old tears came rushing out my genetically-concealed tearducts.

I cried into his ugly holiday sweater for a while before I asked him, "Did I do something wrong to make us stop talking? Was it my fault? I'm sorry."

He responded as he petted my head, "No, it wasn't your fault. You didn't do anything wrong."

Minutes later, my dad told me, "I love you."

You would think that our father-son relationship would have developed more after that late, holiday moment, but the events that came almost immediately after that didn't add more space to the pot. News of Arizona didn't add water to the plant. The exodus from the only home I loved for fifteen years didn't give us oxygen to thrive on.

I didn't understand it for a while, because I was still trying to talk to my dad, but my dad wasn't exactly trying to talk to me. I was doing a majority of the work trying to establish a connection with him, but he wouldn't really elaborate on much of anything. Maybe I wasn't asking the right questions. I mean, there's an obvious difference in how my dad talks to my friends compared to how he talks to me. I must be doing something wrong.

That day in June, the third week of living in this apartment, when I was breaking down in the bathroom in front of my mother, is when I started to understand.

I was breaking down because my family was moving to Arizona in less than a month. My mother was cycling through the reasons why I shouldn't be sad about it. She was telling me that everything would be okay, and that everyone else in the family was hurting just as much as I was.

I was crying again because of the statement she was about to say. As soon as the words, "Your father," left her mouth, I couldn't help myself.

My mom told me about how my dad would do anything for me. How important I am to him. She detailed about my infancy and beyond: "When you were still a baby, daddy would go straight home after work. He would shower and he would go straight to you. He would play with you as soon as he got home. He bought you so many toys. Remember that Power Wheels Jeep? He got that for you. He looked so happy whenever he looked at you. When you grew older, whenever you needed anything, he gave it to you. He never said no to anything you needed. He doesn't do that for Jonar; he doesn't do that for Noel. To him, you are number one. He loves you so much."

"He may not know how to talk to you, but it's not his fault. You know his own dad died when he was still a boy. He didn't really have a proper father figure...but he is still your father. He's not perfect, but he tries."

I don't think I cried that hard in a while.

Technically, my dad isn't moving to Arizona, yet. He's going with my family to help them get established and connected with the community by registering for schools and other things. He's going to be officially transplanting after December this year. However, hopefully, our communication, our relationship, as father and son, will grow and nurture itself. I know it won't happen overnight, or within a year, but I'm always hopeful.

I've always told myself that I didn't want to be like my dad. In many ways, it's true. I don't want to be distant from any children I may produce. I don't want to be distant from my wife. I don't want to sacrifice time with my family for much of anything.

But I would do anything for them.

The main reason why I love my dad is because he does do everything for us. While it may have temporarily severed many connections we formed with in our earlier years, his sacrifice to support us should never be taken lightly.

My father isn't perfect, but he tries, and I would never trade him for anything.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Part Four: Citizens of Tomorrow

Christopher Jonar Espiritu in the Cave of Dreams.

I want to thank everyone who took time to read the blog the last few days, even though no one's really reading the blog. They're reading the posts through Facebook. I guess that kind of spreads the word and brings traffic. Either way, everyone's comments were read and this whole experience is helping me deal with this transition greatly.


When I first met Jonar, he wrapped in blankets the way you would wrap yourself on a winter night and your feet aren't tucked in with the rest of your body. Except, of course, he was six times smaller than I was. Or something. I was thirteen.

It's a completely different feeling watching someone grow up (Jonar), in comparison to growing up with someone (Noel). It's like watching a movie, or some other similar experience. There are ups and downs, and maybe sometimes it can be annoying. I don't know what I'm saying. I know that it is a wonderful experience watching someone grow.

We see this happen with people we get to see every week, or at least more than once a year. People we work with, people we go to school with, and people we live with.

The first time I met Jonar (outside of the womb), other than thinking about how great it was to have another younger brother, I was thinking of how great it would be to play the big brother role for someone thirteen years younger than me. Although, it wasn't bound to be the most carefree role, I looked forward to it, eagerly.

I still look forward to him growing. I'm not going to be there though.

That's probably the main problem I have about Jonar moving to Arizona. While, I don't doubt he will miss living in New Jersey, his friends, and me, I doubt that he will be as attatched to New Jersey and most of friends as Noel is. My mother tells me that Jonar wants to go to high school in New Jersey, but he has four more years of grade school to get accustomed to living in Arizona.

Realistically, Jonar going to high school in Arizona wouldn't be a considerable problem for me. Mostly since I have a pretty good knowledge of the high schools in Jersey City and most of Hudson County. I have a pretty good hunch that the high schools around Maricopa, AZ, are considerably more suitable for any person.

Anyway. I have an abundance of memories with Jonar dating since March 1, 2000 until now, and not one of them has been a waste. Favorites have to be from the times I decided to take him to parks or to the movies on my own accord. It was then that I really had some true interactions with him and tried to see what he liked and didn't like. I tried to see him as more of a person than just a kid, and that's how I treated him most of the time. Except for content-sensitive content in different media that I considered inappropriate. For example, Left 4 Dead's emphasis on teamwork and survival over Call of Duty 4's emphasis on competitive target practice. I understand that these two games are M-rated, but I also know about over protection like my parents did. (Though, letting me watch Charles Bronson movies and kung fu movies as a child is questionable). I talked to him like a person, not a pet; and I tried to make sure he protected form certain elements, but not completely removed from them.

In many ways, I'm not really going to be leaving my brothers at all. With all the advancement in technology, I won't have to wait for snail mail or telegraphs, or worry about long-distance charges. The only thing that I will be missing out on is their day to day experiences, which I miss out on anyway.

Because, as much as I would like to, I can't be in two places at once.

I just never want Jonar to be sad that I'm not there with him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Degausser: Part Three

My brother, Manuel Espiritu: past and present, focus and recreation, real and super-fiction, hero and destroyer.

Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating an unwanted magnetic field.

Manuel, Noel, my brother, is probably one of my favorite people in the world. Despite the fact that some of him is still shrouded in mystery, even to me, his brother. I can say that I enjoy talking to him about certain things. We share a very similar sense of humor, which I can't really define (if I want to meet this deadline). He is an excellent gamer (whether or not it's just because he has so much time on his hands is a result we'll have to wait for). He knows his math. He knows his computers (mostly). And he's a good kid.

Although, for all the positive things I can say about him, I can match it with some negativeness. Not that I wan't to create a world-wide insult to my brother in this post. No. It's ceratin negative aspects to his personality that make me worry about how he will do in the Southwest.

He can be mean sometimes. He yells sometimes, when it's not necessary. He has a hard time letting people in.

He really does mean well by his actions. I've never witnessed him willingly do anything malicious. Maybe he plays a little rough, but no one really knows their own strength until they use it. He's a good brother to me and Jonar, however, I can't help but think that there's something to source this to. It could be hereditary. I'm not privy to expressing myself all the time, and I may not be the best person to talk to about advice. My dad is also a mostly silent person. I don't know if this is by choice. Do all Espiritu men have a dominant timid attribute?

Anyway, when we were little, I can remember playing LEGOs with Noel almost everyday. We also had quite the admirable Power Ranger toy collection that we didn't treat as collectibles. Noel and I were pretty much best friends at home. Maybe sometimes we would play too rough, and he would get hurt. Or I would get mad at him and he'd cry, but we were really close. We still are in many ways.

I just want to know where that little kid went.

Is it bad that I can't remember when exactly he became a moody teenager?

I don't think of him anyless now that he's eighteen-years old. I think of him even higher now that he's approaching the functionality of a fully-developed human. Let's rewind.

If I recall correctly, it was around summer 2003 that I got my own room in the attic of our house on 81 Carlton Ave. From my understanding, my mother, or both my parents, decided that I should get my own room so my friends and I wouldn't always take up space and be noisy in the living room. I remember it being summer 2003 specifically, because all of my friends were heavy in Halo 2 for Xbox. Maybe we were inappropriate while we were shooting our artificial super-soldier avatars on the living room television. I mean, I was sixteen at the time with my brothers being twelve and three-years old respectively. Those aren't usual age gaps, though not impossible.

When I contemplate when Noel became the way he is, I often reminisce to the first few months I moved into the attic. Maybe even before I moved into the attic, too. Before the transferring, Noel and I shared a room together. It was never a problem. We never really fought over space or anything stupid like that. We still played with LEGOs at that time just like we played with toys and video games together.

Now, this backstory isn't some eerie desire to bring back pre-adolescent Noel. I appreciate him for what he is. He's human and humans change all the time. Humans are complex creatures, and they are all different, even if two people are different by one small detail. Anyway.

I support my brother in nearly everything he does. I don't support his late-night raids on whatever cloud game he's on now. I'd prefer he'd knock out at 2am, but that's not how it happens.

I usually knock out at 2am.

Noel wishes to persue a career in the video games industry. Great inspirations for him are nearly all the games he plays, console and cloud. As a creative person, I support him in any way I can. I want him to succeed just as much as I want Robert Jason Clark's script to get picked up or Stephanie Herrera to get a job at Blue Sky (or something).

Sometimes, I just wish he'd show more enthusiasm or effort to try and get there.

That's essentially my main concern for Noel in Arizona. I want him to do well, but it's not going to happen if he continues on like this.

I want him to be more social. The video game industry isn't usually a priority target for most young people, and rightfully so. The video game industry is nearly as dangerous a course for a career as the comic book industry (which is where I'm headed).

The only reason I'm being so critical here is because I love him and I want him to do well, but not by my mother's methods of what I think is "negative conditioning". It's difficult to explain.

I can explain the imagery I provided and the reason for the title.

The title, Degausser, is how I defined it above: the process of decreasing or eliminating an unwanted magnetic field. I guess one could compare magnetic fields to personal space or language barriers of any sort. Noel has an incredible magnetic field; he's aware of it, and that's okay. It's a start. My magnetic field used to be as thick as his. Hopefully his will develop the way mine did.

The imagery, I won't explain. A sudden change of heart. It isn't too complex, but I guess that's because I ran out of time.

My brother, Noel, is one of my favorite people. For more reasons than one, I hope he knows how important he is to me and my whole family. He may have started to feel neglected since our youngest brother was born, but that isn't the truth. No one brother is more important than the other. Both Jonar's and Noel's absence will bring me heartache. However, there shouldn't be any reason for them to be living in a different place every year. Whether or not they call the house on Sunset Drive home, I want them to be happy to live in a house that is handsome, dependable, and most importantly, air conditioned.

Part Two: Carry on as if nothing really matters...

One of mom's last days working at Christ Hospital.

I think many mothers often display two different qualities. Sometimes, and, usually, most of the time, it's only one of these attributes that are immediately visible. There's the motherly attitude displayed when she's trying to do some parenting, and then there's the part of her that shows when she does something for fun. It's difficult to explain, but it's easy to relate to.

My mom, not unlike any other Filipino mother, enjoys kareoke. It's annoying when I'm trying to work on something (it doesn't sound wonderful, either), but she enjoys singing. That's what matters most, since she doesn't have much time to do something she wants. I try not to bother her when she's in the middle of a song, just like I try not to interrupt a song I'm listening to, or when someone's in the middle of a perfect streak in Rock Band (or something).

While more approachable than my dad, my mother is sweet and helpful whenever I try to talk to her about something, however there's kind of a culture clash when I do try to get some advice from her. Well, there'a culture clash and a language barrier (sometimes).

For example, early in June this year, my family just finished moving into the last apartment we'll move into together. I was having a hard time dealing with this sudden realization, along with the announcements that they would be flying out to Arizona by early July. For the following three weeks after the move, I would have a hard time doing anything: going to work, waking up, cleaning my room, unpacking, etc. When waking up for work in the mornings, not only was I not thrilled to be awake so early (I never am), I was, and I hate to say it, crying at the thought of being alone. It was hard not to think about it throughout the whole month at work, because I would be solitary during walks. The feeling would, or could, evaporate rather quickly, since there were people around, friends or co-workers, to help me take my mind off it.

Anyway, it was the last week of June, I was in the kitchen getting ready to go to the gym, or something, when my mom asked me why I wasn't flying to Arizona with them to help establish certain things like school for Jonar and Noel, and other things. I couldn't really answer her. I started to choke up as she kept asking and I walked into the bathroom. I guess the mistake I made when entering the bathroom to wash my face, was not closing the door. When I finished washing my face, I just sat on the edge of the tub, and I couldn't help but let it out. It was one tear at first, then it kind of flooded.

My mother passed by the bathroom, then quickly realized I wasn't right. I was trying to hide the fact that I wasn't okay by just staring at the floor, but my mother's my mother and she was persistent.

I told her that I was afraid that Noel and Jonar would think I was abandoning them. I told her that I wasn't worried about school. I wasn't worried about my financial situation. I wasn't worried about much else. I was mostly worried about my brothers, their development, and how they would adjust to life in an exurb community. How would Jonar do in his new school? How hard will college hit Noel?

I was concerned for my mom and dad, too, because they also have to adjust to life in Arizona. They don't have jobs waiting for them there.

My mom and I discussed a lot of things, ranging from my dad to my brothers to school and how hard it is to live alone, but I came out of that conversation feeling a lot better. Since talking to her in my bathroom, the breakdowns are few and far between compared to most of June.

That's the one thing I can depend on my mom for. I usually feel better and I help her feel like a person for giving her someone to talk to.

Except, our conversations, when they do happen, don't usually consist of her pulling my teeth to find out what's going on.

It's more her talking about her day, what bothers her about my dad sometimes, or that I should talk to my brother about being more responsible.

All I know is, it's nice to know she cares, since all I hear, when I'm in the apartment, from her or my dad is "Did you eat?"

It's a Filipino thing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not related to "Awaken".

If I'm going to blog about something important, something that will create a monumental difference in the way I live, then---I don't know.

Keith Chiappone has an excellent blog, in which, in a novel-like manner, lets out everything that happened throughout the day. (Quotations and everything.) Or, at least, the interesting things.

Most of the time, anyway.

I used to be a hardcore blogger during 2001-2005. They were pretty much your average high school blog. You could say I tried to make it interesting, but my high school years didn't really amount to much, and I'm largely unsatisfied with my decisions. Anyway.

The point, and the reason for actually typing in this blog, as opposed to just throwing pictures up, is that I don't really know how I should go about saying anything about anything this important like this, but I want to.

As some of you know, my family is moving to Arizona, while I remain in New Jersey. The approaching week will be their last as New Jersey residents and the last week we will be a... family in its truest form. Don't get me wrong. We won't stop being a family unit. It's just a big change. It's a change I've had at least three years to prepare for, but I'm still not ready for it.

Realistically, I think I'm prepared for whatever challenges and sacrifices that come with leaving the nest, or in this case, the nest leaving you. What will be more difficult, for me, and my family, I think, will be the separation. With the world shrinking every day by advancements in communications technology, ideally, the separation won't be a problem.

Also, if you know me and you know my family, you know we have communication problems to begin with. I wouldn't call it "dysfunctional". I'd call it "non-functional". It's a problem we have, and it's a problem that I have no idea where or when it stems from.

So, you wonder, "What's the problem? You're not really losing anything, are you?"

That's kind of the reason isn't it? Instead of trying to understand or trying to fix my family, I'm just letting them slip away.

The same thing happened when we lost our house. Which is kind of why this crisis, or transition, is happening. Anyway, we took advantage of our house and everything that comes with owning and living in one. For the past three years, we've lived in at least five different apartments all over the Jersey City Heights. Trying to fit a five-person family in a one or two-bedroom apartment isn't the easiest thing to do. Especially if that family still has a lot of stuff since moving from a house.

I'm kind of going on tangents all over the place. Let's get back on track.

I feel like I've thought and blogged about this situation many times on different websites, but the feeling is always nagging at me. Am I being selfish by choosing to stay? Is this the right decision? What does the rest of my family think? These questions don't make me change my mind about my decision. The questions make me wish there was another way. The questions don't change anything.

I'm (kind of) losing my family.

So, with that said, after many sessions of digression, for the next five days, I will be posting "tributes" to each member of my family, starting with my mother and ending with my dad.

It fits, since there are only six whole days until they get on a plane for Phoenix.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I, Caution.

I swear tomorrow's post will be something related to "AWAKEN".