When the Boy was young, one of our favorite things to do was to run the trash. Is that a horribly Southern term? Probably. We lived in a rural area and had to throw all of our garbage into the back of my truck and take it to the county dump. Of course, around here, dumps aren’t called “dumps.” They’re called “convenience centers.”
Don’t look for logic. You won’t find it.
I treasured these times because we were able to get out of the house, where quiet was the preferred atmosphere, into the quasi-soundproof Rock machine that is my black Chevy Silverado. Through the magic of radio and homemade CD’s, we were able to take some much needed time to Rock. By the time he was six, he understood the history of Rock better than most college students. It was like that scene in “School of Rock,” where Jack Black has a Rock history flowchart sketched out on the blackboard. The blackboard is hard to read, but it looks like this.
The Boy could hear the difference between Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. He begged me to buy Tool’s “Aenima” because he wanted to sing along while Maynard exhorted Californians to “learn to swim.” He learned a few rudimentary guitar chords. And we Rocked.
And I guess I always saw myself as the rebel dad, the one who was teaching him how to buck the system, how to never back down. You’re going to have to forgive a little naivete… while I never believed that Rock would save the world, I believed it would save your soul. That you could, as Simple Minds said, “Sanctify yourself” simply by the virtue and purity of how hard you Rocked. The Rocking sends out an energy into the Universe… a joyful intensity that comes bouncing back at you like a sonar signal… and that the Rock somehow becomes a shiny form of Love.
That’s what my dad taught me. And he listened to all kinds of weird shit. I would flip through his vinyl collection, play through his stacks of 45’s and he would fill in the gaps where it was needed. “If you like that, you should listen to…” And by the gods, he was right. I love my Dad for instilling that love of music in me at such an early age. Rock… is there anything it can’t do?
And that was how The Boy and I rolled. It was he and me against the world, against the greatest enemies of all, Silence and Censorship. These were the things we could destroy in my truck, with our Rock. We could strike out against the evil of thoughtless fundamentalism and unnecessary bleeping because of the Rocking, which would become the Love and we became something more than what we were, which was a kid and his dad taking out the goddamned trash.
It turns out there were a few things Rock couldn’t save us from.
It couldn’t stop his mom and me from getting divorced. It couldn’t stop me from spending two years in a relationship with a woman he couldn’t stand. It couldn’t stop him from growing up.
Now, that I’m in love with a woman who is my Soulmate, so similar to me in so many ways… I feel the Rock coming back into my life in so many ways. It empowers me. It fills me with a positive energy that lets me overcome so many obstacles. Hell, in a lot of ways, my relationship with Cootie was solidified by Rock. Let me direct you to the playlist I built for her, adding two or three songs a day to let her know what I was feeling about her or us, during the time when we couldn’t be together.
And the Boy does not want to come with. I listen to his Bring Me the Horizon, but he won’t listen to my Psychostick. I listen to his Owl City, but he won’t listen to my Atom and his Package. And this past weekend, he informed me he only wants to see me every other weekend. Heartbroken? Devastated? You bet. I want him all the time. I would be overjoyed if he were to move in with us.
At the very least, this throws a serious swerve into the Five Year Plan.
He lives with his mother, fifteen minutes away from me, and I get him four days a month. Sure, I could fight it, but it is his decision. Taking it to court would only hurt him.
But I’ll say this.
I believe that the little family that I have will survive. And there will be four of us. And even if love doesn’t bring my son back to me, the Rocking will. He has forgotten how much he needs me. I understand this. He’s growing up and out. He will remember at some point. He will remember those times in the truck when he asks himself what’s missing from his life. He will trace it back. And he will come back to us.
And we will sit and listen to From Autumn to Ashes, look at each other, and the Rock will bounce back from the parabolic dish of the Universe, becoming Love on its way back to us, and the Rock will restore us.