Friday, July 7, 2017

I Don't Remember

I don't remember which dance I performed at halftime that night, but I remember my dad came to watch.

My senior year kept me so intensely busy, almost to an unhealthy extent, but everything on my plate was something I truly loved. Well, except AP Calculus. The only thing that was continually sacrificed to make time for everything was sleep, to the point that I was getting 3-4 hours on weeknights and making up for it on weekends. I was the last kid at home, and I really loved that time with my parents. My dad was always after me about taking care of myself and trying to get me to sleep more or eat right. I learned early on to hear "I love you" through his worries.

I went home for lunch one Friday and my mom told me my dad had been laid off. I was shocked. He had been a radio personality in my small town my entire life -- it was the job that had moved our family to Cedar City. I grew up listening to his morning shows, interviews, and commercials through the car stereo or at home on the radio. Sometimes I thought my dad had come home from work, only to find it was the radio on in the kitchen and not him.

A large company had recently purchased the radio station, so we knew changes were coming. But change to this extent hadn't crossed my mind. I remember wondering how my dad felt about it all and what would be next for him. This came at a time when other difficult things had surfaced in my dad's professional life. People close to him had broken his trust in ways he never imagined. I think our deepest cuts are deep because of exactly that -- we never imagined others were capable of causing that much hurt, or making the choices they made. That's the part that hurts the most.

My mom had to be out of town that weekend to be with my grandma. My dad had a lot going on to wrap things up at work. I knew I probably wouldn't see him until much later that evening, if we crossed paths that day at all.

I went to the football game that night feeling distracted and detached. I remember feeling alone in my head when we were stretching during second quarter, and going through the motions as we lined up.

I stood on the side of the field before our performance while my friends joked and laughed around me. Then he caught my eye with a wave by the stadium gate. My dad had come. I waved back and loved him so much right then. I felt so surprised and grateful to see him in that moment.

It's strange to experience the gradual realization that your parents are people, and they're figuring out life alongside you. I saw my dad differently as he dealt with big changes in that stage of his life. He was a person figuring things out, just like me. I met my own changes at the same time as I finished high school, went off to college, figured out my own path. And I found serious comfort knowing that one of the best people I will ever know was still doing some figuring, too. Suddenly feeling buried in a journey rather than seeing a clear destination felt a little more manageable.

Life will always feel more manageable when you're blessed with a dad who shows up.

This post is part of my 8-minute memoir series, following the prompts from author Ann Dee Ellis. You can read more about the project here. This series is an effort to keep writing in my routine, keep a record of life, and keep my spirits high. 

"I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." - Flannery O'Connor.

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