Of the two photos my father emailed to my Blackberry in the middle of the night, I open the one he’s named Chop. The other one, Self Portrait with New Necktie, is one I can’t bring myself to open. Not yet. Instead, I start my day earlier than usual. I take a photo of an
icycle icicle hanging from the eaves of my house. The colors of a winter sunrise are distorted when looking through the ice. I’ll send that photo to him before I go to sleep tonight now that I’ve looked up how to spell it.
icicle: noun: a pendent spear of ice formed by the freezing of dripping water.
On my early drive to work, Hewhowatchesmoviesfromthebackporch calls with today’s weather forecast. He’s surprised I am already out of bed and on my way to work. He just got off night shift so he knows how snowy our roads are and (surprise) he’s watching I Love You, Man. Did I know, he asks, it was filmed at Venice Beach? Remember where we found that great parking place in the shade of a rundown garage’s awning one alley from the beach? Everyone else was parking a mile away, but not us. We had found a secret parking spot.
Oy, I remember. So does he. He tells me that for years afterwards he would sometimes drive to Venice Beach to see if anyone else had discovered our spot.
icicle: M.E. isykle, from is “ice” + ikel “icicle,” from O.E. gicel (rel. to cylegicel “cold ice”), from P.Gmc. *jekilaz (cf. O.N. jaki “piece of ice,” dim. jökull “icicle, ice, glacier”). Dialectal ickle “icicle” survived into 20c.
In how many ways can something keep hurting? I am driving up the slick hill to my office, thinking about this but I don’t say it out loud. Instead I tell him about my dad’s latest emails and how I don’t want to open the Necktie shot just yet. Moviewatcher-Parkingspotrememberer clears his throat.
I flip my left-turn signal on and ask if his movie has reached the sad section, but he says no– he was just remembering my dad back when we were together. Remember how your dad took photos of his radiation mask when he had throat cancer? He measured it and emailed everyone a photo of the mask, the diagram, the radiation table, and the prognosis of oxygen tubes someday hanging around his chest.
Traffic clears. I turn left and bounce across my office’s icy parking lot. I turn the engine off and sit in the silent pickup cab, phone held against my ear and listen to him tell me: Taking photos and documenting pain are forms of detachment which help your dad find the courage to deal with what he must.
icicle: A pendent mass of ice tapering downward to a point, formed by the freezing of drops of water or other liquid flowing down from the place of attachment.