In my daily travels I get to meet a lot of people; and when we begin to talk about our family and our upbringing, it always hit a nerve when a certain young lady would talk about being raped by a stepfather or a young lady who has never met the man who fathered her. All I know is that we kiss our fathers because they make us feel safe. They leave their fingerprints on our five dollar bills for those just in case moments, when they are too far to pull out their wallets and come to our rescue. We hide behind their shadows because somehow it’s safe there; the boogie man can’t get us. Clinging to their pant legs like imperishable fortress needing to be protected from even the slightest wind removing us from this safe space.
So you can imagine when he leaves, or when he never was there, lost in the sea of faces roaring from jump shots, scoring goals, or smiling with conceit at violin recitals. We listen to our mothers recite memorized excuses, imploring us to suppress our anger, as if those one day visits, and our weekly—sometimes monthly trips to the candy store can make up for the uncrossed t’s and conspicuous voids we juggle in our heads.
“I want to be like my daddy, when I grow up.” he says.
Not because he sees him or knows where he works, or how he lives. He just wants his strength, because it has to take a strong man to be away from him and his family this long.