Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 @ 11:20 am
Free To Be Happy
I drive our car, probably for the last time, over to meet him. I am early and he is late. I find myself washing the inside of the windshield and shaking sand from the floor mats because I know that he'd be annoyed at the current condition.
I see him approaching, so I get out of the car and go to the sidewalk. We are standing under a Skytrain station in the midst of an abysmal suburban commuter ghetto. Industrial parks and glassy condos, and the constant roar from the highway.
I stand facing him, my arms by my side, my open heart directly towards him. He is turned to the side, his eyes downcast, his arms across his chest. I hand him the set of keys, and I am crying silently, only from my eyes. My body is still and strong.
"Dad washed the car for you, in the dark last night. He was so worried about it freezing but wanted to clean it up for you. It's not a perfect job but it's a whole lot better than before."
"That's fine," he responds flatly, glancing briefly at the car.
I can't control my reaction.
"That's fine?? My 73-year-old father was out in the dark last night washing the car for you, and your response is 'that's fine'?" I don't know why I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I needed to defend my father. I needed to show him how selfish and unappreciative he can be.
He defends himself and asks me what I'm trying to do. I gain an amount of control and explain that I was trying to explain to him that my family is thinking about him and that this is my dad's way of showing care, and that his response led me to believe that he missed that part.
"You don't know what I was thinking," he says.
"No, I don't. I only know what you said."
There is a moment of silence. We both know this is the same pointless and circular conversation. He changes the subject and talks for a while about details.
"We don't need to talk about these things now. We can do this stuff over email." I say.
"I'm just making small talk," he says. "I don't know what else to say."
We talk a bit more. It's all surface level, and I fight my growing impatience.
At the end, he says, "I hope that you find what you are looking for and that it brings you happiness."
We say goodbye, and I walk up into the train station. I look down at him getting into the car, adjusting the mirrors, and eventually driving off towards the highway.
I'm standing on the platform wearing my tan leather pull-on ankle boots, wool socks, leggings, and my black Gore-tex jacket with a fleecy layer underneath. I have my things for the day in a canvas backpack. I French braided my long hair around my head in a low crown, starting from my left ear and ending with the tail of the braid falling down in front of my right shoulder. This is me. I know that my cheeks are rosy with the cold, that my eyes are greener than normal with the flashing winter sun. Everything about me in this moment is my favourite: my favourite boots, my favourite leggings, my favourite way to wear my hair. I reach up to touch one of my fern earrings. The sun. The city beyond. Him gone. I am free.
The train arrives, and I step on and travel towards the city.
I think about what he said. I realize that he doesn't exactly understand me. I am not looking for anything specific, and despite everything, I am already happy.