19 / 365 – A Rambler

LIZABETH HARALDSEN

Sometimes you talk to someone and you’re explaining something and then they respond to you as if you were talking something completely different. And then suddenly it’s as if all the things that tied everything together, the little bits of understanding and your history and everything just vanish, and you’re in a barren room with a stranger.

The first time I brought Jack home to meet my father, I was very nervous. We had been together for a few months, such an easy sweet time, but I had never stepped back and thought about it, to ask, you know, what we were doing together? What kind of guy was this? But you start taking the guy you’re dating home and you think you are going to have to explain it all. Why is this the guy you decided to bring home? Who is he? All the questions I never asked.

I thought it went OK. I brought him to the shop and Father is under a big truck, doing something, and Jack gets down and helps him, hands him tools. I go in the office and leave them alone. I come out and they’re both holding beers. I’m thinking, this went OK, I’m thinking I can relax. We’re leaving and Father hands me a $20 bill, he’s always handing me a $20 bill when I leave. And he says, “Never trust a guy who drives a Rambler.” And I say, “What?” I don’t even know what he’s talking about. But oh yes, the beat up old car he has, that he bought with his hard earned money, it’s a Rambler. “That’s a long way to come in a Rambler, all the way from Grand Forks.”

I’m thinking, you just had this nice afternoon joking around and talking with this man and that’s all you can say, ‘Don’t trust him, he drives a Rambler’? Were we talking about the same visit. Suddenly I felt as if I didn’t know who my father was. That probably made me cling to Jack even more, I don’t know. I heard someone say that the stupid things your parents do sometimes are what drives you to the wrong friends.

Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted him. Maybe he wasn’t trustworthy. You look at twenty silent years, especially silent now that we can’t talk about what’s happened, about the huge hole in our lives. If I hadn’t trusted him, I wouldn’t have had the children. Wouldn’t have had Chris. Wouldn’t have had this heartache. I know I am terrible to think like this.

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