Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's day with my dad...

So yesterday was a double shot for my dad, it being both Father's Day and his birthday, and it was actually a pretty nice one. It also got me thinking of my dad since I don't really see him all that often because of my work schedule and his being constantly busy even though he's retired. Even though it's been almost 3 1/2 years since my mom passed, I still have a hard time thinking about my dad without thinking about "mom and dad." Especially since my sister isn't speaking to either of us for reasons that are still unclear, I'm sure it's hard for him to think about me just by myself without relationship to my sister.

Anyway, the one thing I noticed is that my dad is unusually taciturn as Asian dads go. Our conversations are usually extremely brief, punctuated by different types of grunts to signal his approval or disapproval, and the occasional sentence when he has something to say, which usually isn't much. So I took him out to the usual bad Asian buffet close to his house (I just stuck to everything that was cooked to death to make sure I wouldn't get any food poisoning considering how long everything stood out there), and we, er, I chatted, talking about pharmacy school applications, where I'm working, while my dad gorged. Driving back, he chatted about his aches and pains, and seemed to open up as I talked more and more about pharmacy school and how serious I am about applying.

Arriving home, my dad introduced me to his new thing, a little puppy dog named Spot that my cousin had given him about a month ago. He had given away my mom's cat to one of his cousins. Spot seemed really happy to see him, and me, even though I had never seen the dog before.

"So what type of dog is it?" I asked.
--Chihuahua, he said, with a straight face.

I looked at the dog again. He was small enough to be chihuahua-size and his features looked chihuahua-ish (short stubby legs, brief little yaps as his barks), but his fur pattern was definitely Dalmatian.

My dad seemed happy to show me Spot, even though he ignored my dad when my dad tried to get him to do his tricks. He just wanted to yap and jump since he was so happy to see him.

On the one hand, it was really nice to see him with his new dog, but then I suddenly felt weird that he had given away my mom's cat, and I couldn't figure out why--maybe it was because my mom had really taken care of the cat and knew when she had passed, but still stuck around, and that he was letting go of other reminders of my mom.

He started doing his chores around the house, and I stuck around to watch TV, most of which was in Tagalog and I could understand maybe a 1/3 of it (my parents speak another dialect, and so Tagalog sounds really strange to me). He was happy that I was there, even if we weren't really chatting or doing anything--but that my presence and my willingness to hang out with him even though I wasn't doing anything made him happy. I realized I had forgotten that.

After about an hour of me watching TV, he saw me off with a small bag of cherries and I drove around my old hometown, driving past my high school, trying to figure out if I should buy any new games for my Nintendo DS, and going to the old arcade that I went to a lot when I was a kid. Everything felt familiar, and yet everything felt really foreign to me, like the edges of me that should've fit into the neat puzzle that was my hometown and my life growing up had changed so that I didn't really fit anymore. Maybe that's why I'm feeling this sense of confusion that home has to be a mental and emotional place, and not physical.

I also realized driving back that this was the first time that I had truly done stuff on my own, without anyone else around, in a really long time. I drove home, listening to Sade's King of Sorrow, enjoying my friend's new mixes, and realized that if I were listening to this before, I would've internalized the lyrics like, "I'm crying everyone's tears/I have already paid for all my future sins."

But tonight felt different. It really felt like I was living in the moment, and I felt unbound by all the sadness and drama that usually happens when I see my dad or see my hometown. The lyrics and the singing still hit me, but coming to the realization that the song didn't really fit my life anymore was welcome.

I guess I really am grown up.

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