If you were lucky enough to grow up in a household with two parents then odds are you know your mom and dad pretty well. As a child of divorce I’m not gonna complain about how my father’s infidelity destroyed my home. I’m not gonna rant about how lazily he packed his things on a dolly along with the only tv we had, or leaving my mom crying at the foot of the bed. He probably won’t even remember my attempt to slam the door on him at the age of three. No, I’m not gonna talk about that, because my father won’t. He never wants to talk about that day. He never wants to talk about what I want to talk about. He never could fully acknowledge me for who I am. But then again, he never accepted himself.
We’d like to think that over the years we’ve accumulated a portrait of our parents. But my father was always this daunting unformed slab of clay. Manipulated by disappointment, the idea of my father would constantly morph into something harder to decipher. We can try to assign similar traits to make ourselves form some artificial portrait of who they are. We both have the same pin straight, dark hair. Both of our mouths pucker whenever we drink soda as if we’re both wine tasters at Martha’s Vineyard, capturing the nuanced pallet of a warm diet coke. Our birthmarks are the same down to the placement on our bodies. But these similarities mean nothing when I look at the man that I am related to. The man who’s supposed to resemble some sort of beacon of guidance, encouragement, care, sanctuary, or at the very least affection.
As I’ve grown I let the stories of our relationship exist in the past. They’re there and are at my disposal when my therapist asks about him. Apart from those tales of abandonment, selfishness, and verbal abuse, I still can’t find a person from the twenty years I’ve been alive. It’s for this reason I can confidently say I don’t know much about my father. If it wasn’t for his toxic nature, I’d like to sit with him at a diner and ask. Ask what it was like leaving your home at seventeen, and crossing bodies of water with luggage on your head and empty cartons attached to your arms. What it was like facing the possibility of being found and sent back for good. Where were you living before you met mom? Did you leave because your parents didn’t accept you? Were you a person before I came along?
In a perfect world these questions and more would be answered. My mind would be at peace and I could go on with my life knowing who this person truly is. This of course, is a fantasy. It’s not as if I haven’t been laboring over the slab of clay, kneeding it for answers. Though it fails to maintain shape in my presence. This apparently wasn’t the case according to my mom. He was lively, curious, and full of wonder she testifies. But then something happened, something snapped. It’s like part of him had died, I added. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever see that side of him that my mom recalls before the divorce. The side that made her fall in love with him and start a life together. Or maybe I’m just wasting my time on a person that once was and never will be.
I can’t help but think that learning about my father will allow me to understand why he is the way he is. He never liked talking about his past because he felt ashamed. He thought that coming here as an illegal immigrant makes him less of a person. Maybe he thought that his origin story would diminish his own feats? Maybe the pressure of his goals, culture shock, and his new family caused him to snapped? Whatever the issue is, it could shed a light on why he has trouble acknowledging my own feats. Maybe I can get some closure for some of the things he’s done. If I can learn about him and listen to his stories, then maybe he’ll see that we have more in common than we think. I keep this idea dear to me that one day our paths will cross again. A less angry daughter and a more openminded father sitting together trying to understand each other for the first time. Maybe one day that slab of clay may turn into something beautiful.
The earliest photo of my father I have. Taken when he immigrated to the U.S.
Fry Song (Original Studio Version) – YouTube For withstanding this horribly constructed work here’s a vid of Adventure Time explaining this essay better that I ever could.
Added a few more relevant links that I felt were appropriate ^