Sunday, June 19, 2011

I love you Dad and you're ugly

I married a man who grew up to be a great father. This is the truth. Not that I ever doubted it would happen, but it’s nice to know. Hopefully he and I will raise our children in such a way that they will grow up and fill cards and blogs and rooms full of people with beautiful, well thought out words that tell him exactly what they think of him. Right now though, I’m pretty sure he’s content with “You’re the best dad in the whole world” as he should be.

Today is Father’s Day, though, not husband’s day, so I’m thinking that’s the direction I’ll take instead.

People tell me all of the time that I look like my father. It’s a compliment, I think, even though we jokingly use it as an insult in my family. We use it that way between the two of us, as well, like when he tells me, “You’re Ugly.” And I say, “I know, it’s because I look just like you.” The truth is I don’t think he’s ugly and he doesn’t think I’m ugly. In fact, we both think we look alright, which is what makes it funny.

My dad and I have more similarities that the physical ones. We are both artists who often manage to feel completely alone in a room full of people. We spend too much time in our own heads and too much money on things we don’t need. We have no patience and thrive on instant gratification. We both smoke too much, him cigars, me cigarettes, and we often enjoy each other’s company the most when we’re smoking too much and not saying anything at all.

We don’t know much about politics or current events. We don’t know much about discipline. We do know that people are worth loving and things are worth laughing about. The world is a pretty funny place to us both. It’s a beautiful place and we try not to pay much attention to people who tell us it’s not. We make the rules up as we go, we always have. We change our minds a lot.   

My father doesn’t make a habit of telling me how to live my life. I used to think it was because he didn’t care. Now I’m pretty sure it’s because he knows I’m going to do whatever I want and there is no point in wasting his breath. I dig that. It’s nice to know that he actually gets me and doesn’t try to pretend I’m someone I’m not. He knows that I, like him, will eventually come to the right decision all on my own and he believes in the process of that, even if he doesn’t know it. 

My father says that out of all his children, I’m the only one who scares him. I didn’t always know what that meant. I’m still trying to figure out the whole of it, but I’m pretty sure it’s like this. We are too much alike. This roughly equates to him being scared for me because he, more than anyone else, knows what it’s like to have a brain and a heart and a soul like the one I have and he wants things to be easier for me than they are for him. I get that. I feel the same way about him. This is what makes us, us. It also means that I don’t buy his bologna anymore than he buys mine. We see through one another. We see crystal clear. That scares him. It scares me too.

I can’t buy the Father’s day cards that say: “Thanks for teaching me to ride a bike and tie my shoes and slow dance.” That’s not how my father and I work. He didn’t teach me to drive and he didn’t teach me about sex and he didn’t teach me how to change a tire. I used to think that I was upset about those things, and maybe I was, but today I wish they made a card that said this:

Thanks for sharing your DNA with me. I like who I am even when I drive other people crazy, even when I drive myself crazy. You are half-responsible for that. Thanks for never expecting more of me than I am capable of and for always expecting that I can figure things out on my own. I know that it isn’t lack of caring but an overabundance of confidence. I never feel like I’ve disappointed you and that’s important. You believe in me for the real reasons and not because you think I’m supposed to be someone better than I am. Thank you for looking at me through the eyes of a father who trusts in God and trusts in me. I love you for that. Thanks for always allowing me to sit quietly in your garage or on your back porch and never trying to make unnecessary small talk to fill up the quiet space. I like the quiet space and so do you. That’s why we work. I love that you walked me down the aisle and pretended to give me away. You looked really handsome in your tuxedo. I love that you have grown up to be a great Pops and that my sons can look to you as a leader, a teacher and a silly playmate.

You have always been the dad you were supposed to be, even when I didn’t know that. That’s the funny thing about life, sometimes we want more, when what we have is Just Right.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you and you’re ugly.