I went to Charlotte for one day over President's Day weekend. Just one day.
For those who don't know, I live in Washington, D.C. right now. That's an 8-hour drive to Charlotte, one way. But I was already in Chapel Hill for the first half of the weekend, anyway. I needed to at least head down there for the *chance* to get the tape I wanted.
At first, I envisioned the latest episode to look at lot like Episode 4 with my mom and little brother, a sit-down style interview where we all talk about our feelings, I bring some context to the situation, blah blah blah.
Here's how I saw it going: My half-brothers and I would sit in a bar (We love bars). We'd sit with our beers and our microphones and just talk. I'd have them start from the beginning: How did your mom tell you? How did you immediately react? I already knew those answers; It would be easy to answer.
Then we'd move into the tough stuff we've been avoiding: What was your father like? What did you like about him? Was this a surprise to you?
And then we'd end by delving into all of our feelings about the situation: Is it weird for you, too? How does it feel knowing I lived a life without him? What are we going to do next?
But, none of that happened.
Instead, the one day I could spend in Charlotte ended with me just grabbing a beer with the youngest of the three. We caught up on life, talked about he was getting closer to that goal of buying a house and about how I was trying to be a free spirit still because lol TRY AND TIE ME DOWN PEOPLE.
I asked him about the podcast. He'd listened to a few episodes when he had a chance. I asked him if he could talk to me for it. He paused and said he needed to talk about it with his brothers. He's been pretty open about everything, but his older brothers, not so much.
I didn't push him after that. I didn't send a text after that. I didn't push them like I would in any reported pieces I've worked on. You know the emails I'm talking about: "Hey XYZ, This is Sam again from THIS NEWS OUTLET. I just wanted to follow-up and see if you would be interested in chatting further for the project I'm working on! No pressure, whatsoever. I'm always here if you need to talk through it more. Just let me know! Thanks so much, Sam." <-- That email.
Maybe I should've recorded them. Maybe I should've pushed them. But it didn't feel right, and it didn't feel necessary. I've been them before. It was only a year earlier when I officially learned about them. I still needed a year of quiet contemplation to feel up to the challenge of starting this project. They had only had a week before I walked in and said "BTW I'M DOING A PODCAST ABOUT THIS WHAT A COINCIDENCE, AMIRIGHT?"
So, I didn't push them. I'm sorry if I let y'all down. But I've been there before, and I know the feeling. I usually go the extra mile for the story, but... this time is different.