I’m not very technologically savvy. I got my first laptop a year ago as a gift from my father. It’s really a long story, but my father and I have always had a very strained relationship. One of the novels that I’m working on has a lot to do with “Daddy Hate” He’s a wonderful man, really, but not an amazing father. My sister and I lived a charmed life, full of everything materialistic that a child could ever want. He bought our affection and traded actual quality time with toys, trips, books, money, anything we ever wanted.
When my sister and I were young and we’d talk of my parents divorcing we’d always sit for hours in my bed looking up through my canopy debating who’d we live with. Would we move out of our mansion into an apartment that my mom would live in? Give up all of the stuff to be with our Mom who loved us unconditionally, whole-heartedly, passionately, and madly. OR would will live in the big house with the big cars and all of the stuff with an absent father. We’d go back and forth for hours and always conclude that we’d live with Mom.
I can remember having these discussions with my sister when we were in grade school, as well as when we were in high school and always, always we’d decide to live with our mother. My mom is amazing. She’s my best friend. Even now, though she’s still convinced that I just need some dick and that I’m not really gay, she’s the person I can count on to be there for everything. She always has.
I can’t remember a single event of my childhood that my mother missed. Kindergarten graduation, she was there. Every Christmas Play, every sporting event, every game I cheered in, every cross country meet in every small white bread town in Ohio, there was the sole black parent cheering and yelling and rooting me on.
In Cities my sophomore year, I was running JV cross country. I was feeling amazing. I had no clue where I was placed for the entire run. I knew that I couldn’t see anyone in front of me and I didn’t hear anyone running behind me. When I entered the clearing towards the finish in the last half mile of the race I spotted my mother. She had a broad smile on her face and I could see her cold breath in little puffs of opaque emitting from her mouth. As I approached her, she started screaming, “You’re in second! You’re in second, baby!” You’re times 19:02, 03, 04…”
“Okay, Mom, ” I gasped I was starting to kick now, ’cause I could see the finish in the distance. I was at 19!? and only a few hundred yards to go? My PR was 21:01! I’m gonna break my PR!
I expected that my mother had stopped running, but no-she was right there. Seriously, running right next to me. On the course. In my second to last race of the season. She was going to disqualify me.
Luckily, my coach stopped her from running, I ran off, laughing and surprised at how fast my mother was running and so happy that I had such a dedicated mother. I ended up placing second, broke my PR and the girl who placed first finished 2 minutes before me and CLEARLY should have been running in the Varsity race so I could’ve placed first.
Dad was no where to be found.
As I entered my teens and twenties the complexity of my family relationship started to get sorted out in my mind and I understood things more clearly. I started to resent my father, his money and his control over the family and started feeling more compassion towards my mother. I made a decision that I would never be dependent on anyone other than myself.
My father and I have had many conversations about his involvement in my life. I have told him many times that, in retrospect, I would’ve wanted to have a father who was more involved in my life rather than a father who was just a provider. I told him how I never felt affection from him, rather his affection was shown by material things. His response is always that I never rejected the material over the physical. True. What child is going to reject a new toy, a private school education, a car, trips to Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean… We’ve had the discussion several times. This computer I’m writing on is the last thing that I took from him.
I actually offered to pay for half of it and in grand Vince Davis fashion he brushed me off and slapped down his American Express over my Wachovia Visa. Fine, I thought pocketing my card, I can’t afford this anyway. There was a small part of me that knew I should’ve rejected the computer and charged the machine I couldn’t afford. On the other hand, I couldn’t afford to not have it. My computer back in New York was the computer I’d purchased on my own my freshman year of college-ten years prior. It was dying. I needed this thing. It’s how he always gets me. I knew I’d regret it.
I did regret it, about three months later when we were having a talk about the fundraising I was doing for the marathon I never got to run in San Francisco. I was raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and not having much luck. I was just talking to him about it (I didn’t dare ask him for money) and he remarked, Well, “I’d help you with some fundraising but I’m still paying off that bill from when I flew you home last and that computer I gave you.” Ouch. That is Vince Davis for you.
It’s ironic now that my parent’s are actually divorced and my mother hasn’t been happier. My father hasn’t been more miserable. They’re doing this weird dating thing now. He comes to her house for dinner, takes her out, he’s actually taking her to Vienna in August. He’s trying to woo her back. I have to keep reminding her to use a condom if they decide to have sex, and not to give it up too quickly.
So started this blog about a computer swap. Clearly, I had Dad drama on the brain. That’s fine. It’s like therapy, only cheaper. If I were in therapy, at this point the therapist would ask what my real problem with my father was. If I peeled away the resentment for his material affections, took away my issues with him as a husband, took away his lack of involvement in my life-what was at the center.
The answer is that I want a dad. I hear Mirs talking to her father on the phone and I feel pangs of jealousy. My roommates and their father have an amazing relationship. It’s all jealousy and the need and desire to share the same types of relationships with my own father (and sister). I’m impossibly stubborn, a nice trait I picked up from my father. I could call him, be the bigger person, pick up the phone, put all the shit behind and start fresh. Instantly, even writing it, my mind is telling me why it wouldn’t work. He’s the same man, he’ll keep bringing up old crap to throw in my face, etc., etc. I’m working on it. Maybe I’ll call him this weekend. Again, my mind is telling me why I won’t; I have to work, a friend is coming in town, I have to work on my book. Lastly I think, the phone works both ways. He could call me. In fact, the last time I spoke to my mom my dad was at her place. I told her to tell him hello for me and that he could pick up the phone and call his daughter. He said, to my mother, that his daughter could pick up the phone to call her father.
I will do it, though, this weekend. I only have one father, after all. With all of his flaws, at the end of the day he’s my father. I asked Mirs how she and her father got to the place they are now. She tells me that they’re relationship is far from perfect. He’s still dealing with the gay thing, the democrat thing, and he’s a lot like my own father. She deals with him by realizing that she can’t change who he is, and even though she doesn’t like it, she has to learn to accept it.