“Hi Papa, I have to ask you something.”
“Of course Daybreak, what do you need to know?”
“Well,” I can practically hear her twirling her hair over the phone. “Mommy wants to know if you want to eat with us.”
“[Eva] wants to know or do you want to know?”
“Umm…umm…” She whispers (in the loud way kids do). “Mommy is just too shy to say it.”
Oh really? Your mom who is even less shy than I am? Riiiiiiiight.
“Well I have to work until tonight Sweetie but if you ask your mom nicely, maybe she’ll want to see me as well.”
She pipes a yes before I can hear her talking to Eva in the background.
“She said yes and…what was I supposed to say again Mommy?” I hear Eva sigh and speak before Daybreak continues. “She said we can have pizza tonight. So how has your day been Papa?”
“Eh it’s been just fine [Daybreak]. I’m just a bit tired.”
“You need a nap Papa, do you want me to read you a story?”
Before I can tell her no, it’s OK she has launched into a very spirited retelling of The Emperor’s New Clothes. As she finished she goes, “and the moral of the story is that you are just better off without clothes.”
“I don’t think that’s what the moral is supposed to be Sweetie.”
“But if he was nakey, he’d be free Papa.”
You know how people say you get what you did to your parents turned back on you with your own children? This must be what I get for those times I would shuck clothes as soon (or even before) I got into the house.
As we learn how to speak beyond one or two-word sentences, we are told by the adults around us that we should always be honest. It’s one of the first lessons a child learns and right from the start, we are also taught to bend it.
We learn to keep others at a distance, we learn to use phrases like “I’m fine” or “it’s OK” even when on the verge of breakdown.
We learn tact which I like to refer to as polite lying; for example, saying how much you love a Christmas sweater your grandmother gave you despite the fact that the sight of it makes bile rise up in your throat.
But the most numerous all are the lies we tell ourselves. We tell them to comfort ourselves or to try and glue the pieces of our lives back together. We tell them to make us feel better about ourselves. We tell them because, quite honestly, the truth freaking hurts.
It ostracizes people when they can’t handle hearing it.
It puts us out of our comfort zone and onto the guillotine.
The truth is really not what it’s cracked up to be.
This is why me and denial are such close friends, especially when it comes to feelings.
I had a conversation with Tinkerbell on Friday about denial, about how I was happy that she was finally letting herself admit she wanted a relationship with her beau Freckles. Then in our typical rhythm, the topic turned to my own denials. One of which I’ve kept up for the better part of a year.
After advising her not to deny what she wanted, I would be a hypocrite (one of my biggest peeves) if I did not do the same.
Denial #1 – “I am nothing like my father.”
I often keep people at arm’s length. Before I really tried to control it, I had an explosive temper. I can be blunt to the point of tactlessness. I use sarcasm far too heavily. I can have a “fuck the world” attitude from time to time. I am happiest outside. If someone starts a fight with me, I’ll be sure to finish it. The reason I don’t get drunk is because I’m afraid I’ll have his same problem with alcoholism. I look like him. I sound like him. My first name (not Kendall) is in honour of him. These facts bother me horribly. They probably always will.
Denial #2 – “I am confident about my teaching internship next year.”
It scares the piss out of me. Not even while I be responsible for the education of a group of children but this is on top of finishing my last year of undergrad and working as well. I’m all ready pretty sure I won’t be able to be a full-time UNC student between all of this which means I might not graduate until the summer or even Christmas. I’m going to be one tired man come Commencement.
Denial #3 – “I’m not ready to get a place with Eva.”
While yes we did talk about it at length, we decided not to just yet. She has some of her things at my apartment as do I at her townhouse. We have slept in the same bed on many occasions. While I want to say it’s because I’m afraid of taking that step, the truth is…I don’t want to have a live-in girlfriend I’m not engaged to. It’s the bits of my old-fashioned morals from my Nana rising up in me.
Denial #4 – “I may love her, but I don’t see Daybreak as my daughter.”
This one is so full of shit that I’m amazed I managed to believe even part of it for a moment, much less for months. I was always afraid to call her my daughter out loud. Afraid that because of Denial #1 I would be a horrible dad. So when I called her my daughter aloud where both Eva and Daybreak heard me, I thought I would have a panic attack. When Eva didn’t immediately jump in and correct me, she instead just smiled and said she had known that for months.
As Grey’s Anatomy has said, “denial really isn’t just a river in Egypt. It’s a freaking ocean.”
And I seem to be drowning.
So what are you deluding yourself about?
While my 21st birthday didn’t really involve alcohol (yes Mindy, I know this is blasphemy of the highest order), partying (postponed until the weekend), or gifts other than cards from Scarlett and The Bait, a short conversation with Daybreak made it fantastic.
Daybreak: “Happy birthday Daddy, I love you.”
You’d think that after being called Papa for months, it wouldn’t phase me all that much.
You’d be wrong.
“This land is your land.
This land is my land.
From California to the New York islands
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.”
I sat in my living room with my friends watching, utterly transfixed, as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I had known this day was coming since November 5th but I was still taken aback as I watch the absolutely record-breaking crowd at the National Mall during President Obama’s inaugural address. This is really happening.
And what made his speech even more powerful was that he addressed to not only the 300 million-plus crammed into the city or even the millions watching on televisions across the country but to people watching across the world. He reminded us all that now is the time to take responsibility and do our own parts in making change possible. That opportunity is a dare — not a door.
I watched, me and my friends largely snowed in, when Daybreak asked why I began crying silently.
I explained to her how I grew up hearing stories about how in my family’s time, they were not allowed to go to the same schools as white children. That they had different restaurants. That they were required to give their seats to a white person. That to see this man become President, one of the most powerful men in the world, was something that must have my passed family members smiling from Heaven.
I told her how proud I was of this country and how hopeful I was for its future. That I was ready and willing to do my part to help it prosper so that the children now, like her, would have an even better life than I did. And then I told her something that I hope she keeps with her for years to come.
That if you have the ability, there is little to nothing you cannot do.
This child — this blond, green-eyed child — nodded before snuggling back down into my lap while everyone else in the room tried to act as if they hadn’t been listening as well.
It won’t be easy, nothing worth doing ever is. But for those who will come later I fully believe it is worth the effort to change the way things are done in the economy to law-making to foreign policy.
We’ve come so very far.
But we still have so very far to go.
And hello 2009!
My New Year’s Eve was spent with Eva, Daybreak, and The Devil A. K. A. my puppy. We played Monopoly. Me against team of Eva and Daybreak. I still say there was some money being slipped out of the bank but I’m not bitter.
More like impressed that they weren’t caught.
You know the row between Jail/Just Visiting and Free Parking? Yeah that was death for me. By the end of the game, there was a hotel on New York Ave., Tennessee Ave., and St. James Place. To make matters worse, there were 3 houses on the purple properties whose names escape me at the moment.
Like I said, death.
I tried to fight back in other areas of the board but after landing on two hotels back-to-back and needing to mortgage one set of my houses, the game was pretty much over.
Then to add insult to injury, Daybreak takes a handful of their winnings, fans them out in her hands and gives her best attempt at a diabolical laugh. If you remember the classic nicktoon Rugrats, think Angelica’s.
After my humiliating defeat we watched Mrs. Doubtfire and then Mulan, during which Daybreak fell asleep curled up against Eva’s lap. After getting her ready for bed and then tucked in, we sat on the couch and sat talking for the last half hour of 2008.
When my clock struck 12, I put my hand on her cheek and kissed her. She put her arms around my neck and we stayed that way for a long minute, leaning our foreheads against each other after breaking apart.
Not a bad end to 2008. Not bad at all.
I know, I know. You must be wondering why I’m writing again when I just wrote that letter earlier in the week. Well since I just posted about appreciated things while you still have them I would feel remiss if I did not thank you.
Me and Eva have had several long talk and as of approx. 6 PM today, we are back together. I spent part of Christmas morning with her and Daybreak before heading to The Godmother’s and later on in the day at her mom’s who then insisted I stay for a while.
I found myself started to question if I was right during the summer. If needing people was only inviting trouble. But I would like to think I have felt all I have just to prove that my younger self was wrong. That I cannot make it through life without others. I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t miserable.
Now seeing as how Mami will be giving birth soon, I can only pray that you make it two for two.
You never know quite what you have until it’s gone. I thought I had all ready learned that lesson last year, really DID NOT need the remedial course.
I remember being afraid of Eva developing feelings for me, thinking I did not deserve a second chance. That she could do so much better.
I remember feeling terrified and simultaneously amazed that Daybreak would adopt me as her dad and that I would come to think of her as my own.
Slowly but surely, these two carved out a home in my heart. So when Eva told me we should stop seeing each other, it was like my world stopped. My heart pounded and my eyes widened as I tried to comprehend why.
Yet despite how horrible I felt and still do, I almost hissed a negative response when asked if I regretted dating her in first place.
From her using my legs as a pillow while we studied, to picnic lunches in the park and lazing the day away playing, to the days I would keep an eye on Daybreak while Eva worked, to teasing each other like a family would, the past seven months have been some of the happiest of my life and I would not trade them.
One of my greatest fears was that I would do something to screw up this relationship. In the irony that seems to govern my life at times, I did too well trying to prove I could do right by someone and Eva broke up with me before we got too close for lasting damage.
My simple response was, “it’s too late for that hun.”
So Internet, I turn to you in my time of need. Especially those of who you are single parents or have dated them.
Is it OK to be selfish and want this to work even after she broke up with me? Or should I just try and be her friend? I’m at a lost here as I want so badly to just say screw it and kiss her senseless the next time I see her. I probably won’t (not saying never as I know how my emotions take over at times) but it won’t be for lack of desire to.
I know when to admit that I’m in over my head. Now is most definitely one of those times.