I woke up hungover. Saturday night spilled into Sunday morning with no sign of the snow that had been previously predicted. My apartment was so empty it echoed; boxes were still packed and I probably would have been lonely if it wasn’t for the security of youth and the constant inner dialogue. “It didn’t snow, weather said it won’t until tomorrow, I guess I have to drive to the island.” I usually try to make nights out of my trips–6 hours of visiting barely makes three hours of driving enticing–but it was my father’s birthday and I had already told him I wasn’t coming because of the weather. I woke up, showered and decided to head to Rhode Island.
I walked up to the front stairs and saw a familiar sight: my father sitting on the couch watching TV, tapping his fingers and occasionally taking a drag on his cigarette. After casual conversation my father got off the couch, walked into the dining room and returned with a worn crumpled paper bag. He pulled out a Portable CD player, a pair of large studio headphones and a Frank Zappa album, Hot Rats. We had a sound system, but he wanted me to listen to the guitar solo the way he did in the Army. No, not on drugs, but with headphones. We bought a microwave for my new apartment and ate cake to celebrate his birthday, but really we spent most of the day listening to music. I drove back to Boston right around the time it started snowing. I saw three accidents on the expressway and got drunk to celebrate the snowstorm that was going to allow me to sleep in Monday.
The phone woke me up that morning. I shoveled through a foot of snow and followed plows like a funeral procession down Route 24.
A week later I was at a bar my parents frequented and one of the patrons walked up to me and said, “You know, the last time I saw your father he had a crumpled paper-bag full of music he was showing everyone”
I thought for a second, and said “Me too.”