I am honestly surprised my dad spent so little time on this epic-seeming chapter of his life. Perhaps he will come back to it? I know that there are experiences and people he became friends with, which deeply altered and informed the person he was becoming.
Also, how could he have failed to mention the rat-hole apartments and canned soup diet he lived on during those years? For a season, or an off-season (late fall, winter, and spring) he lived in an efficiency apartment (aka a large room) right off the main amusement strip in Old Orchard Beach. Dismal and bleak do not begin to describe that place. Gray skies, cold, spitting, wind flecked with dirty sand, summer's littered french fry boxes skittering along the roads, catching in the dry brittle beach grass, the ocean an angry roiling forbidding omni-presence, and his bare-walled, furniture devoid, room. I would always anticipate visiting with relish, I missed him desperately, but the visited would, almost without fail, disappoint, and I would ride home with Mom feeling empty, despondent, and irritable.
He did desert us, my Mom and I, and maybe he needed to--to cling to something, to fashion a new dream, something for himself to live for, like the proverbial drowning man at sea grasping for a life preserver--that seems right, but it did come at a cost. I knew, without being able to understand it, that my parents marriage was faltering, the ground under my feet, though not having felt solid for long time, left me emotionally nauseous, I became hypersensitive to the rifts, and hints of rifts. I was angry, but never at my dad (where the anger-proper belonged) usually at my mother. This pattern of misplaced and displaced anger took root weed-fast and deep and disturbed my relationship with my mother until I was like, Jesus--well into my twenties.
One thing my dad did do, during those years we all lived apart was to write and write. I have saved them, almost all; reams of long, lovely letters filled with his thoughts and musings and opinions and silly, sweet rhyming poems. I wrote him too, weekly, religiously.
Dad and I did reconcile, when I was in my early twenties. It went something like this:
"You promised me we would be together, that we would be friends, and you would always be there for me. You broke that promise a million times in a million small and large selfish ways. I have abandonment issues, trust issues with men, am basically all fucked-up, and it's your fault!"
"You're right. I'm so sorry. I am filled with regret. I own it all. Forgive me--can we move forward? I love you."
That's the Cliff Notes version--and we moved forward.
He became a lawyer and I have always been wildly proud of his accomplishment and position and the respectability this afforded him and me, by way of proxy.