I’m surprised by how excited I am that I’ve gotten past you. This didn’t happen through the normal outgrowth process of making a conscious decision to change something I don’t like about my life, working diligently, getting frustrated that I’m not seeing progress, calming myself down and saying I think I can, I think I can until it was done. I don’t know if I even realized I wanted to until by world was so thoroughly turned upside down that it just…happened. He called me that night, approximately 12 hours after it had all gone down, as I was leaving K’s courtyard, and after initial consoling I-just-wish-bad-things-never-had-to-happen-to-you-because-you’re-such-a-good-person and other protective Daddy-type things, he asked me if I wanted to talk about it. And I hesitated, but then said okay, and was taken a little aback by my own answer. I could tell he was started too. But then we…talked.
My dad and I have an…interesting relationship. We haven’t lived under the same roof since I was an infant, and until I was 9 years old we saw each other once a week (sometimes twice if I was lucky). When my family moved from Mays Landing to Pleasantville for a year, he even moved to Pleasantville too, so as to not be too far from me. He was my reprieve from a far-too-troubled-for-any-9-year-old-to-have-to-deal-with life at home, my Superman, and my very best friend. And then he up and moved to Detroit after the Sands casino closed, and I felt so very alone in the world. For the first few years, I tried really hard to make it work. We talked on the phone every couple days, and I was really diligent about trying to fill him in on every little detail of my life. And then we had what I guess can be called our first falling out the week of my thirteenth birthday; he was supposed to fly back to New Jersey to visit me, the first time he’d have been home since he moved, but then his stupid girlfriend broke her stupid ankle and he stayed to take care of her. I resented him for it, and hated her. And I made the decision then to start weaning him from the intimate details of my life…I had a phone-Daddy, not a real live father who deserved that kind of information. Then my mother had the brilliant idea of sending me to spend 8 weeks with my father the summer before my freshman year of high school. He suddenly tried to start being my parent, rather than my buddy, and let’s just say rebellious teenager Maya wasn’t having it. We got into a huge fight and didn’t speak for the last week and a half of my stay with him…or for about 4 months later. Afterwards, I became polite and cordial and called him approximately once a week out of a sense of duty. We finally talked about all of this sometime during my sophomore year of college, and he asked how he could fix things. I was…skeptical that things could be fixed.
But then they magically just, were. I didn’t tell him everything, but I opened up to him more than I have in the past decade. I spoke to him freely about my life and who said what when and why it mattered. I explained to him why I felt so wronged–he had trouble understanding why it was such a big deal…men, lol. He listened to me when I was angry and he listened to me when I was sad and he was just there for me, saying encouraging things. He even offered to fly me down to visit him in Florida for a few days if I needed to get away from Princeton and “the memories”. I felt like a little girl with a Daddy again…or maybe finally like a grown woman with a father she can rely on. Either way, it was a wonderful feeling. Especially when my mom wouldn’t talk about it. He said on his mind all day while he was at work was me, and how I was holding up at work, and how I was going to get through this. He was so concerned about me. He loves me so much; I don’t know how I ever forgot that.
So good riddance, unwillingness. I’m glad you’re gone. I can’t believe I let you stay in my life for as long as I did. My dad deserves better than you. He deserves me.
PS: I complained to some friends last week about how the ability of a person to come into your life, turn it upside down, and then leave and turn it upside down again without everything falling back into its original place was one of life’s biggest injustices. But now I see that there is some beauty in this. Sometimes you have to be forced into changing the things that deserve changing the most.