Today was one of those days that it seemed like winter was in remission. It felt like fall out. And while I was driving and enjoying the sun with the sunroof in my car open, I remembered that I needed to call my daddy back.
From 3 days ago.
“Hey,” he says jovially as his phone flips, calling me by my first and middle names as though it is a hybrid. He is the only person who can call me that without it feeling like scolding.
Most of our conversation consists of laughter and the sounds I make to answer his questions kinda like:
Daddy: So how you liking Texas?
Daddy: It can’t be that bad. I know work is driving you nuts and you’re probably needing your own space but it’s not so bad. You have to learn to not be alone so much.
He got all that from, “meh.”
We talk for the better part of an hour and finally get around to the inevitable conversation of me living in Atlanta. He tells me my brother was looking forward to me moving back after graduation. I think back to how much fun he and I had when I was home for his birthday and the guilt makes my stomach fall to the floor.
Me: Well, Daddy that was my plan, to be in Atlanta. I dunno if it’s where I’ll stay but it’s where I wanna be right now. I was looking forward to it.
Daddy: I know you were, baby. Me too.
The backs of my eyeballs sting with tears I won’t let fall because I’m driving. He’s got That Voice. You know the one big, tough daddies use when they’re trying to tell someone something emotional. I smile on the inside. And then I laugh to myself. I may look and sound like my mama, but I’ve got my daddy’s temperament. It’s hilarious to me.
We talk some more and I realize that somehow he manages to talk to me like I’m an adult, not his only daughter, and that, for some reason makes me feel like I’m about 8 years old, still poking him in his sides to make him wake up and cook me breakfast. I say very little as I’m accustomed to doing, but he gets it. He knows what I’m feeling or thinking even when I fail to articulate it. I don’t think he realizes how comforted it makes me feel. I know that it must be strange for him to watch his little girl grow up, I know it must be hard for me to be so independent when all he wants to do is be my daddy. He manages it gracefully though.
I think forward to the day I’ll introduce him to Psuedo, and I giggle because I can already see them getting along. I think backward to all the mornings I went to work with him, riding shotgun in his old Celica, eating donuts and talking to my daddy about anything that came to mind. I can see him walking me down the aisle and holding his grandchildren in his big calloused hands. Hearing his voice on the phone makes me imagine I can almost feel one of his big bear hugs whenever I get home. He lets me be me. And somehow he still manages to be my daddy too.
When I was a little girl, I’d follow him around the house, we’d wrestle and laugh, I’d jump on his head while he was in bed, sit on the floor of the kitchen while he cooked. But my favorite thing to do was climb up on his lap, and curl up in a tight little ball, my head resting in the crook of his arm. I remember crawling up there many times when I was sick or sad or just wanting to. Hell, if I was in Atlanta, I might consider doing itnow.
But since I’m not, I just talk to my daddy and hope that if he’s somehow found peace with the woman I’ve become, then I can too.
And I hate it for whoever I end up with because they’re gonna have it rough trying to fill my daddy’s shoes.