I was eating lunch at Panda Express in Alexandria, Va (I unashamedly love their Orange Chicken) when I noticed, sitting a few a feet away from me, were two little Hispanic kids (I’d say age 6 and 9 or so) and their father eating lunch as well.
My 5 readers know I’m Hispanic; I’m not mentioning the kids’ race arbitrarily.
When my sister and I were about the same age, my father would bring us along to the car wash. We would begrudgingly help him dry the car so streaks wouldn’t set in. Afterwards, we would go to the McDonald’s next door. We would eat and talk about our weeks I assume. I don’t remember the conversations. I just remember being annoyed at having to dry the car and being with my sister and my dad.
My relationship with my father right now is the worst it has ever been. I don’t think it’s dead. But it’s in serious and not stable condition.
As I was walking away from the Panda Express, I began to cry softly. I’m not a big cryer. I don’t think it’s not manly to cry or anything. I just built up a defense system to never show my emotions to rob my bullies of a tiny bit of joy.
But I was crying thinking about how bad things are between my dad and me now. I was crying because even know I’ve long since passed being hurt at being a disappointment to him, every now and then I wish I wasn’t. Like today. I was crying because I’m so angry at myself for being such a piece of shit that I manage to poison the relationships with the two people who love me more than anyone.
I remember thinking as I was wiping away my tears: how did everything fall apart? It was really a wounded cry of a question. I know I am mostly to blame. I’m a selfish person with severe emotional issues.
But then I breathed in slowly through my nose and out through my mouth, as I have been taught to do. It actually helps me calm down a bit. It doesn’t take the edge off but I think it takes the edge OF the edge off.
I am not the only bad actor in this lifelong play. But it seems I’m the only one willing to admit openly and fully that I am complicit.
I don’t like kids as many of you know. There are a few exceptions: my son and my friends’ children (most of them). But I do envy kids. I probably won’t ever be as close to my father as I was when we ate lunch at the McDonald’s next to the car wash on Saturdays.
I think that’s what made me cry the most.
That I can’t go back again.
And that it will never be as simple and clear and light as it once was.