Thoughts from a Weird, Strange, Funny Girl
Something I never admit to anyone, let alone myself, is that there are very few moments in my life where I miss my father. I grew up with a single mother and was very lucky that my mother taught me to never hate my dad. In fact, for the most part, I didn’t think about it. Life with a male was an obscure and foreign concept to me. The only male in my life was my grandpa and he didn’t live with me but next door, and was always more like a playmate than an authority figure. But the actuality of reality living with a member of the opposite sex was such a far off concept, I never even played pretend.
The first time I actually met my dad, I was nine years old. I remember getting so excited that I told my whole fourth grade class (I’m sure my mom got a lot of interesting calls from school that day!) and hearing all sorts of advice. I remember hearing about all different types of stories from my classmates about what kind of families they had (sad to say I don’t remember any of them) but the one phrase that chanted in my head the whole time was: I am going to meet my dad! I guess maybe some kids would have been scared. Maybe some would even have been resentful. I was just curious and excited.
I remember getting on a plane for the first time ever in LAX airport to go and see him in San Francisco. I was to be by myself and while I was a little nervous, I remember my mom telling me that everything was going to be alright and that if I had any questions to ask the stewardess. I remember being hopeful to see other kids with me on the flight but there wasn’t. I remember being hopeful to be invited to the Captain’s Cabin, but I wasn’t. I realize now that if I had asked they would have shown me but as a kid, I had a strict sense of be on your good behavior when you are not at home. I remember putting on my seatbelt and a stomach full of butterflies. I remember the plane moving down the runway, going slow at first then faster and faster till I felt the wheels lift and we were off the ground. I remember my body and head being forced against the chair from the pressure, terrified, but keeping my head turned towards the window, forever looking out, not wanting to miss a second of it. Then we were stabilized, floating through clouds and miles and miles of land beneath me. And I remember… that no matter what that I wanted to do that over and over again.
When the plane landed he was there, outside the gates (pre-911, obviously) waiting or me. When I look back and think about it now (which I’ve done a lot), I wonder, was he nervous? It’s not like I would ever expect him to admit to it but, here was a girl he had only met when she was just an infant and had no idea if she would even like him let alone hate him. But I didn’t. I remember the first thing I thought when I saw him was that he was just so.. cool. I had seen photos of us together when I was a baby and he had the funny eighties hair, clothes and a James Dean wannabe attitude and thought he looked cool then too. But for some reason, I figured that the translation to age would… I don’t know, make him look like a dad and not this six foot blue jean, worn brown leather coat, shades wearing glasses kind of guy. In my mind, he was too cool for me so I barely said anything to him and let him do most of the talking on the ride home in his powered blue four seater convertible.
We pulled into an area that I would later learn as Suburbia with pre-fab houses and I remember thinking how fascinating it was that every single home was built almost exactly the same. I remember being impressed with how huge the house felt like compared to everything that I knew. I had come from an area where the houses were built from as far away as the twenties to a few years prior and every single house was different from size, style, layout and arrangement. My father’s house, as I made the quick assumption of every other house on the street, was just BIG. I remember wishing to someday live in a house like this and how lucky this other family was. (Not so much today as undoubtedly your tastes changes as your age grows)
My memories from this first visit from here on out are blurry but I remember how big the room I was staying in (my oldest little sister’s) and that it was probably easily the smallest bedroom in the house. I remember falling in love instantly with my two little sisters the third sister not being born until the next time I saw them) and wanting to teach them every little game I knew as an older sibling. I remember being afraid of my step mom no matter how nice she was to me. It wasn’t like I expected the Disney stereotype of all step mom’s to be evil and mean but I could instantly tell that this was a type of woman you wanted to be on your best behavior around. I was coming from an only child environment where the rules were loose and I mostly did what I wanted. If I drank three glasses of milk at home, it was no big deal since it was just my mom and me but in a family of four (later to be five) with a visiting guest, it was. Nobody taught me the rules on proper house guest behavior rules and my whole life it has been something I’ve had to learn to wing.
So for the most part, I stayed quiet and aloof to myself. I smiled when talked to, made my bed every morning (because when I didn’t it would magically appear made) and tried to participate in their Suburbia life style but mostly went stir crazy every time I visited. I usually could make it one or two days before the itch to live life like I wanted started to kick in. Like with my obsession with the internet and computers, not being able to drink soda and every soda was counted for, and reading in the middle of the afternoon. It was like every moment of the day was planned and scheduled with no one ever giving me an itinerary. I appreciated their generosity and their attempt at making me feel like family but I always knew that it was only ever temporary. Plus sometimes I felt like their lifestyles were crazy or just so different than mine and more than a little weird. For instance my step mom was one of those people who brought reusable bags to the grocery store before it became trendy. As a nine year old at the time, I thought it was weird.
But through it all, I never stopped loving them. I never stopped wondering what my life would have been like if I had grown up with them. I don’t regret living life with my mother but sometimes I wonder what it could have been like to live a year or two with my dad. Him and his other family were like collector toys that you kept in their packaging in mint condition and didn’t ever play with while my family were more like the beat up Barbie doll you played with no matter how dirty and beat up they were. I think that’s part of the reason why I always seem to be slightly scared of them. I’ve put them on this pedestal to worship and too scared to ever take them down. And been too scared to reach out, scared to connect even though it is something that I’ve wanted to do everyday of my life since I first met them at nine. Maybe because of this aloof behavior they didn’t think I liked them or cared. Maybe they just thought I was spoiled. But I was in awe and exploding through so many feelings of wanting to be loved and accepted that my heart could have burst. To this day I still have every drawing my sisters mailed me and I wonder what was so wrong with me that I still have this incapacity to mail a letter or birthday card.
Now it just feels too late. My sisters are all grown with their own lives and while they friended me on Facebook when I had it, it wasn’t exactly a warm reunion and more of a social obligation. My own step mother denied my friend request several times without so much as an acknowledgement. And I’ve never known why. This is the first and only time I’ve ever even spoken out about the issue or shown it as a concern because not only do I keep most of my true dreams a secret but also my fears and real feelings. My whole life I’ve never known how to verbally express my desire to be close to this family. When MySpace came around, I spent years searching for my sisters on it before finding one of them on Facebook.
I guess this blog article tonight is reminiscing about regret as I don’t really have a point or direction I am going with this article. Except that even though I have long since come to accept that I will never be daddy’s little girl, I still and will always long to be.