When I was in college my parents relationship was not well. We just had a death in the family, my grandfather who used to take care of all of us. Without him my parents marriage started to disassemble. It wasn’t fun being at home. I felt burdened and generally disillusioned about life.
I went on a road trip with my dad alone. We were going to visit family in the states and also New York City. It was winter I remember. We spent a long time driving together in the car.
My dad is Asian he doesn’t really talk much. On the road trip though I asked him a lot of questions. I asked him what he was like in his youth, what he regretted, what was the most important thing in life, is he scared of dying?
He said the most important thing is to be in love. He regretted not asking out a girl he was in love with when he was younger because he thought she was too good for him. He remembers she was in charge of makeup at a church play he was in. He kept wiping the makeup off his face so that she’d reapply it. He remembers it was love and he lost touch with her.
He said he used to be scared of dying but once you have kids and do all the things you were going to do in life it slowly gets less scary.
I wanted to drive sometimes and I would go super fast and he told me to slow down, but I liked it, it made me feel something.
We stayed in a motel and I bought a book about marketing. We watched TV and there was a scene with Rocky Mountains. My dad said how beautiful that was. It made me sad because I felt so numb I didn’t feel anything.
After that conversation about death I felt better. My dad made me feel safe, dads are good at that. I slept that night feeling better than I had all year. I dreamt that dying was like falling asleep was like floating on a river and slipping under a curtain that was kind of like van gogh stars.
When I look back at this trip I can see why I was depressed all though college. My dad was processing falling out of love in his marriage and regrets and also battling depression and suicide himself. I wanted my own life but I was still here taking care of him and not confident enough to strike out on my own.
Growing up was nothing like I’d imagined. Everything felt wild, the highs and lows were so intense. I was numb but also shocked at how intense my emotions were. Later I was shocked by how much I cared about people. Even later I was shocked by my own strength.
But things shock me less and less, I’m getting used to being me. I’m getting used to the idea that there is a love beyond what my dad knew.
Sometimes I still feel shocked but it feels more like the shock of other people, maybe they are discovering themselves too.
I should be easier on myself for not being good at some things, I know I’m very, very good at some other things, they just aren’t easily ‘used’ by other people. People usually don’t like what they can’t use. I will share these things with the world when the time is right.