One of the greatest truisms I've heard: when it can be, life is a strange fucking thing.
My father and mother got divorced back in 1998. I was 12 at the time, just on the cusp of entering middle school. God damn, what a great time for a divorce, eh?
The split was one of the more amicable ones, the biggest fight being who got to keep the copy of 'Ghost' with Patrick Swazee. In the end, my father moved to the Hudson Valley in New York(to meet a woman) while I stayed with my mother the high plains of New Mexico.
So there I was, just on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and my one and only father figure moves away. Now I can only communicate via the phone and I can only see him for the three months during summer. So my real, face-to-face contact with my father is reduced by 3/4. It's more than what some kids get, but it was still enough to affect my life.
Middle school was to me what everyone describes high school as being- awkward, alienating, downer years. That's when I really began to eat badly. Ugh, the shit I stuffed down my throat- fried burritos drizzled in pre-made cheese product, three slices of pizza, tacos. Whatever I could get that was bad for me, I crammed it down without even really thinking about it.
This was also the time I was supposed to start getting hair in funny places and start thinking about girls. Well, the first happened. The second...it did, but fuck if I did anything about it. Like a lot of 'big but not fat kids', I was already classified in my own mind as being 'fat'. Very low opinion of myself. So I didn't really put myself out there to date girls. I tried once or twice, just to make sure my mother didn't get any funny ideas (about me being funny), but nothing ever really stuck.
So middle school passed, we moved from a big city to a small town, and then came high school. This was my true blossoming period. Before this time, I hadn't really known what kind of niche I fit into. I played a bit of football in middle school, but I was never a jock. I played a bit of band in my freshman year, but I was never a band nut.
Then came Starcraft, Magic: The Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. The holy trifecta of early 2000s nerddom. I had truly found my calling. By the time I was done with high school, I had played three major D&D campaigns, beaten both Starcraft games, and had a stack of Magic cards almost four feet high(!)
Yet again, my health and girls seemed to take a backseat. By this time, my niche in the school was pretty well set- the social butterfly. Everyone knew me, and I knew...most of them. Thanks to some stellar comedy performances at the yearly talent show, I was known to most of my classmates. Despite my high popularity and (in)fame(y), I was still so ashamed of my body- which had bloated thanks to my horrible eating habits- that I withdrew from any notions of a sex life.
Throughout all this time, I had almost no real relationship with my father. He'd gone off to New York and found himself another family with his new girlfriend and her daughter. I saw him for three months out the year and we kept in touch on the phone. For some reason, that just wasn't enough.
The divorce made me question the logic of relationships- why start something that will end? The lack of a close, personal father figure kept me from so much good wisdom. This was only exacerbated by his 1 1/2 year deafness, during which I could communicate only by e-mail. Now that he has a Cochlear implant I am learning that he, too, has never considered himself attractive. It's an eye-opening experience that I wish I'd had at 13 instead of 23.
I don't blame anyone for what I am. For the most part, I love being nerdy. I love using my brain and my hands to create new things. I love the solitude of working on Warhammer figures or the community of Team Fortress 2. Now that I can look back with an adult perspective, I can see my deficiencies- lack of meaningful female relationships, poor body image, terrible eating/exercising habits- and their causes, I can figure out a way to help them.
Rambling over, back to the point. Life is so fucking weird. I've only had contact with my father for 1/4 of the years 1997-2007, and no meaningful contact for the past 1 1/2 whole years. Yet- I talk like him, I think like him, I have the same mannerisms, the same dry wit and sarcasm.
As far away as we've moved from one another, I still became my father. Now that I'm an adult, I can see- it's not a bad thing.