Note: This blog post was originally written in October of 2015, but, I have just summoned the will to publish it.
Have you ever tried walking down a familiar sidewalk with your eyes closed? No? Well I recommend you try it. I promise that it’s a doable task. It’s simple and fun, even. A bit of an ego stroke.
The other day- -while walking to class– I said to myself, “hmm, I wonder how far I could get with my eyes closed.” So… I shut my eyes and proceeded to walk. I was a bit nervous that I might trip, run into someone, or stray off my path. As I made my strides, I had begun to tell myself how great I was for dominating the sidewalk blindly. I’m sure that I looked like a goof doing this, but it was worth it. After I had my aha moment, I was able to praise myself.
See, I’ve been trying to formulate the right hook for this blog’s theme. The right way to fully capture my recent experiences and while I was searching for it I drove myself crazy because I could not gather my thoughts easily. It wasn’t until months later, while not thinking about it, I found it!
Walking down a familiar sidewalk, one I walked twice a week, with my eyes closed for the first time. That’s how it felt surprising my dad on his birthday this past September. He had no idea I was coming. I’d planned this reunion with my sister and step-mom. For years he’d attempted to kindle a bond between us. Birthdays, holidays, and a few in between. Some times I responded, sometimes I didn’t.
What was keeping me from gaining the father/daughter bond that I’d spent many-a-night crying about? What was allowing me to half-ass accept apologetic notions? What was making me feel like it was TOO late? Pride.
I made it this far without you. School dances without someone there to intimidate my dates. The opportunity to ask you since Mama said I couldn’t. High School graduation. Talks about college. Everything else in between.
Everything I needed or wanted my mama gave me, and if she couldn’t Grandma or Grandpa would.
Though they did their best, lets face it. NOTHING can replace a father. Nothing.
There was always a void that I needed to be filled. One day I woke up and asked myself “GIRL, what the hell is keeping you from saying, okay Dad, I need you” ?
At age 23 I got myself together and took a leap of possibility. Anxious is an underestimation of how I felt boarding my plane to Texas. In that moment I felt like the little girl I was when I first went to visit them in third grade.
Eager and scared.
While on the plane I had the chance to gather myself. Rid my head of previous, constructed images of myself and the identity I had fostered:
Bastard child whose strength was in being raised in a single-parent home. My strength was in making mama proud and showing her that all that hard work she’d done would pay off through me. To not offend her, I thought, I should distance myself from him so that she and I can stay on one accord. We don’t need anything else.
Then I remembered a time that she and I had a falling out. Just ugly. For months we didn’t speak. No phone calls, texts, I even blocked her number. Yes. Blocked. Call it what you want, but that’s real. If we were able to come back from that ugly phase, then why can’t I allow him in my life.
Regardless of the past and what happened between my parents (who was present then and who wasn’t) went out the door. I figured, if I had visible proof of him trying to build something, that’s what matters most right?
Understand, I’m sparing you details for the sake of my word count. And realize everyone has their own version of a #boohoosadstoryblackamericandadstory. This is mine, summed up:
I am the child of a boy (yes boy) who didn’t want me, where as the man (who I’m writing about) I know as my father, has stepped up. I am the child of a boy, who contacted me just before high school graduation– on Facebook– to tell me he had so much to discuss with me, and never did. I am the child of a boy who–when last laid eyes on me at a family member’s funeral–blankly stared and said nothing. I am a child with tainted images of what a parental structure should be and what a family is. I had to tell myself to not focus on what I didn’t have and redirect that energy of absence to the present. Why not?
That’s where I was on that plane. Asking myself why not repeatedly until my plane landed.
Once I arrived I was immediately engulfed in this world I’d missed for years just for being stubborn. What does a grown adult/child do with her dad for the first time? Go to the mall duh! Have a couple of drinks. Watch TV. Eat. Just what family does. While there, I was surrounded by love and affection that I had missed. I was able to feel a new birth of possibility.
As prideful as I am, I’m glad I swallowed that pill and did what I did. The overwhelming look on his face, and the element of surprise was all worth it.
On reconciliation, it can be hard. Real hard. But we must ask ourselves, in the midst of emotionally dominating situations, what do we really have to lose. If what you are battling or going through takes a toll on you as mine with my father I encourage you to take deep breath, step back, and ask yourself what have you got to lose? In the moment, be there for who’s there for you. What sidewalk will you close your eyes for?