I don’t consider you a close friend until you have spent some time with my father. No one can really know me until they have met him. I would say, “know him” but according to him, that is impossible for even me to do. I often repeat this to him when he insists otherwise; “Dad, how can I not know you? I AM you.”
I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start with some introductions. The photo above is my father Charles at my 3rd birthday party. He was living on another island, and was visiting Maui for just this occasion. This would be one of about 3 meetings before I turned 12. He was a celebrity in my eyes. I think possibly he was a celebrity in his own eyes as well.
If only the internet had been around when he was younger. He is still young by the way and very much online – as I write this I am doing by best to be honest in the knowledge that he will certainly read it and possibly comment. If the social web had been developed in 1985 he would be one of those people with a thousand Facebook friends and possibly a blog like this one. I love watching him in his glory telling a shock-value story to a rapt audience.
And let me tell you, this is a man with some incredible stories to tell. I am sorry to disappoint you here, but if I started trying to tell them, this would become an entirely different blog. After I turned 12, he moved to Maui and began to tell me some of these stories. I did my best to memorize them as we became close through my high school years. When he would make appearances at my high school, my friends would swoon and ask me about my new boyfriend. I said, “GROSS! THATS MY DAD!” Secretly I was proud that I had such a cool dad, who worked hard to teach me that there is no such thing as “normal.”
When I arrived in New York City for college I was eager for people to know me. One of the best ways to do that – beyond the initial introduction of, “I’m Harmony from Hawaii,” which did a lot of work to get me noticed above the Jennys from Jersey – was to tell stories about my family, especially my father and his side of the family. I would hold court, telling stories that made people listen.
Little did I know, the reason they were staring at me was not because I was telling great stories, it was because I was possibly oversharing. At one point my roommate took me aside and said, “You really need to stop telling people those things about your family. It’s embarrassing.” I was stunned. I had not been raised with the concept of the actions of family (some whom you never met) reflecting on your own identity.
At one point I was so compelled by these stories that I mentioned to my dad over the phone that I might like to write a book. He was so thrilled. This call was shortly followed by a call by my Aunt begging me not to. She was not into sharing her families past and didn’t want me to do it for her. After that I was much more cautious in what stories I tell and to whom.
I am almost finished with Public Parts, by Jeff Jarvis. It’s a must read. Throughout reading it, I couldn’t help but think of my tendency (exacerbated by Cabernet) to overshare, often in the form of stories about my childhood – specifically involving my dad. Jeff discusses over sharing at length. I would agree with him that as long as you are sharing stories with permission and credit, they don’t harm anyone, and they add value, then there is no over sharing. So my dad and I can continue to tell great stories, someday hopefully I can share them with you.