Monday, February 25

Papa Issues

This is my submission for War Child. Check out the link and what they're trying to do.

I could write an entire library about my father. I could write for hours, days, weeks, even months or years and still not map out the twisted pathways we navigate in our daily relationship. It has been so fraught for so long that we have turned being us into a tango of unending variety and imagination. We do the dance well.
Under all of it there is a root of love and distrust and guilt so inextricably wound together that a magician could not separate the strands and psychologists have bloodied their heads against the wall of our refusal to let anyone in, let anyone to the heart of the maze. What we want least is to ever hurt each other and so we do – over and over again. He is England. I am France. We are bound through history and dependence neither wants to truly recognize.
For the first time in twelve years my father and I are going on a vacation together. I asked him if he would take a trip with me for my birthday and he said yes. We started planning and figuring immediately and ended on Chicago. We’ll be in the Windy City in April, probably not the best time to go, but it suits us; it will be spring, but won’t feel like it.
We’ll go to museums and on tours, shopping and wandering through the bluster of a transitional season. After almost thirty years of being together I have come to expect less and less from him and to be satisfied more and more. Maybe we’ll even go to a taping of the Oprah Show. Thinking of my father in that audience is enough to send me into hysterical laughter and him searching for an aspirin, but he’d go…for me. I’m looking at the Cubs schedule to see if they’ll be home. Maybe I can surprise him with tickets. When does baseball season start anyway?
We can agree on the food at least. Both of us are on diets we will undoubtedly cheat on each day we are there. We’ll spend our evenings in blues clubs drinking really good liquor. I won’t smoke during the entire vacation.
We will both try. At some point I’ll be in tears, though not for very long as he doesn’t understand them, sees them as a weapon and I try to suck them in as much as possible. He will be hurt and disappointed.
Still, we try. We hope. We love and we wound. We bleed and we scab, but never truly heal. We complicate the simple and ignore the complicated. We crack each other up and break each other’s hearts. Sometimes though, he is the only one I want, the only place I feel safe. Always he’s my Dad.


Jay said...

Relationships with our dads can always be difficult. I never was close with my dad and he pretty much rebuffed all efforts to get closer.

I hope you trip to Chicago with your dad turns out to be a great time.

WNG said...

I think it will Jay :)I really do.

His Sinfulness said...

My father and I were separated by the Vietnam conflict when I was very young, so he was never a part of my life. He lived overseas for most of his 30 year military career, and when he returned it was simply too late to establish anything - he was and is a complete stranger to me. I would say that I envy your relationship, but I can't even feel that... I just wonder at it, what it would be like to know the man who spawned me. Best of luck on your trip!

NoRegrets said...

How nice.

WNG said...

Well, Pater, I wouldn't say that I KNOW him, because I believe that the closer we get the less I know him. But we do TRY to figure at least some parts of each other out and I am very grateful for him.

Thanks, NoR.

The CEO said...

What an excellent start! It will work if the two of you want it to work. That's all relationships are, something mutual between people. The two of you are starting to treat each other more like friends while maintaining a father-daughter relationship. Nice! Keep it up. Baseball starts in April.

WNG said...

That's a nice thought, CEO, but I guess it depends on how you define work. It 'works' because we have both decided to ignore large chunks of history and complications and to lower our expectations of each other dramatically. I'm not saying we won't have fun, just that you can't gloss over all that has gone before - there's too much of it. You can, however, ignore it over a beer at a baseball game.