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December 2007

The Source of All Things

Recently released as a full-length memoir, The Source of All Things was first published as a feature article in BACKPACKER in December 2007. This is the full-text of that article.

The Truth (a one-act play)
[The lights come up on a rock in the middle of a boulder field. Don, an attractive man in his mid-60s, sits slightly in front of his daughter, Tracy. She holds a reporter’s tape recorder in front of his face.]
Tracy: [Fidgeting; tugging at her shorts.] So…this is going to be hard.
Don: It’s okay.
Tracy: [Hands spread on the rock, absorbing its heat.] All I have are four questions. And I don’t want to know details. Because I know. I was there. And so what is important to me is to know your version of the truth.
Don: [Nodding, looking down.] Tracy: Okay. When did it start?
Don: [Clearing his throat, composed.] On a camping trip up here at Redfish. I had been drinking. I lied. I was tucking you in. My hands went to a spot, which surprised me, and I kept them there. But the severity—it wasn’t that often at that age. Just periodically.
Tracy: [Agitated.] But I was 8. Couldn’t you see what that did to me and say, “Oh my God, oh my God, I did that. That was a mistake”?
Don: [Calmly; choosing his words.] A person who does what I did…you make things up. You don’t think of the other person. You just need that closeness. If I had ever known how it would have affected you, I probably would done something completely different.
Tracy: [Still agitated.] So…that day on the log. I wasn’t upset?
Don: I don’t think so. I don’t remember. I was trying to cover things up. I had feelings for you. I thought of you as my fishing buddy. The only thing I could do was lie. I wasn’t thinking of you.
Tracy: Just so you know…in case you were wondering…I was thinking about what would happen if I jumped in the river and died. [Starting to cry.] I was 8. That’s so fucked up.
Don: [Tenderly.] No, it isn’t.
Tracy: [Sadly.] Yes, it is. When you’re 8 years old, you’re a little kid. It wasn’t a physical thing?
Don: Not then, but later I was put in a position where you were going through puberty. This was your teen years, you were probably 12 or 13. Your mother stopped being intimate. I leaned to you for closeness.

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