My life went into overdrive these past few days. I don’t even know where to begin with this post.
Some of my readers are friends with me on Facebook, but for those that are not, my dad came to visit us for a couple days last week. It was a complete surprise. Him and my mom had planned the entire thing behind our backs. I’ll recap how I found out for those of you that haven’t already read about it:
I get a phone call from mom.
Mom: Ashley, come quick! Maggie (her dog) got out of the fence and ran away!
I rush over. Mom sticks her head out of the fence gate and says, “She got out back here!” And the embarrassing part about all of this is that while my mom is trying to pull off something so sweet for me, I’m immediately angry. I’m screaming, “WHY ARE YOU WAITING FOR ME?! GO RUN DOWN THE DAMN ROAD AND LOOK FOR HER! WE BOTH HAVE TO LOOK!!” As I’m running to the backyard with blood boiling, I opened the gate to be greeted by the stupid dog I came over to find. I said, “What the hell, mom?” I was annoyed even more now that I had wasted my time. I was looking around the fence for openings that she could have went in and out of when my dad walks into the frame. It took a moment for the image to register in my head. I was confused. I had to tell myself, “Don’t cry, Ashley. Don’t cry. First you will, then dad will, and then you won’t be able to stop. Don’t blink. Let your eyes stay dry.”
My parents divorced when I was three. Growing up, our father was ALWAYS in the picture. We stayed with him for weekends, holidays, summers, etc. It never felt like a piece of us was missing. My childhood was lovely. My parents, unlike any other I have ever known, always remained friends. There was never awkward tension or repressed anger. They got along well. Neither one of them ever said bad things about the other. (At least not around us.) We took family vacations as a whole. It’s basically the most mature, beautiful divorce any child could ever wish for. I have always admired their strength. I’m not oblivious to the fact that they had their problems, but they always made sure that they kept us out of it. That’s something I respect. That’s something I am so grateful for. That’s something that I will take along with me if my circumstances ever end up the same.
Some years back, my father’s mom got ill. He packed up his life and moved across the country to go live with her. Now, living in Colorado, going to dad’s house isn’t the easy trek it once was. In the past six years, I’ve seen him three times. He stayed with us for a week when I graduated high school. I saw him for a day when we went out to Colorado to visit my brother two years ago. (They lived on opposite sides of Colorado.) And, now, last week.
I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I miss him and all of the things we grew up doing together. He’s hardworking and has other responsibilities and I’m a brat and though we have never been fighters, we don’t seem as loving or connected as usual because we don’t see each other much. It’s not his fault, but in the stressful moments I blame him. I need reassurance. I’m THAT kind of girl. He does all he can for us in the time that he has and none of it goes unnoticed. The moment he comes back, all of those lows are pushed away. I’m wrapped up in his famous bear hugs, listening to his stories like I did when I was just a little girl. He is a beacon of light, always remaining happy and incredibly loving. He refuses to grow old, or to stop having fun and be ‘normal’. He’s taught us so much about love, courage and perseverance. I got this backbone from him. Nothing else compares to your father.
Although this was probably the best surprise I’ve ever had, it made my schedule kind of crappy. I had to work three of the four days he was here. Luckily, my boss allowed me to stay home for one of them. Another day I had to go shoot a wedding with one of my friends who was also visiting for the weekend. I had made plans to spend time with her while she was in town, but the wedding was the only bit of “free time” I had. The two of us chicks, running around like crazy animals, trying to make sure we got pictures of every single tiny detail. I left the wedding before it was over so I could spend that night with my dad before he left the next morning. The time was short and went by too fast, but it excites me for the next time we get to see each other.
The day after dad left was my anniversary. Talk about a hectic couple of days! We spent our day, cuddling on the couch trying our hardest not to do ANYTHING. Having an open day to ourselves is rare. We took advantage. So many of my friends thought it was crazy that we didn’t do anything to celebrate, but in our heads, that’s exactly what we did. We don’t have to do anything exciting or buy silly gifts just to remind each other that we are still in love.
This is the point of our relationship where his touch becomes so familiar that I forget where I end and he begins. Where I talk to myself out loud because even though he is right beside me, I still feel alone. Where I stop wearing makeup, wear his old ugly shirts all day, leave the dishes piled up by the sink and sing songs I can’t sing. Where I lament the fireworks of the beginning and romanticize the excitement of singledom. Where he tells me my stew is too salty and I tell him that I hate that band he loves. Seriously, I really hate them.
At the same time, this is the point where I don’t need to tell him why I’m crying. He already knows why and he knows all the right things to say. Where we can work silently on our own projects for hours on end without getting distracted by each other. Where he knows just how hot I like my showers (scorching), and I know just how he wants his eggs made (over easy). Inside jokes, all of those inside jokes. Where he knows all of the characters in my stories and I know the narrative of his life as though it’s my favorite novel. Where all the games end and our flawed, messy, marvelous true selves begin. This is where love whispers instead of shouts and even though it’s quieter now, it’s stronger than it ever was.
I posted on Instagram about how I’m just filled to the brim with content and I could say it over and over again. Life is good. My people are golden. I could complain, but what’s the point? The highs are much higher than the lows. All I can do is ride the waves and be thankful that I can swim.
“Happiness is a choice, not a result…”
If you don’t take this shot of your feet in the leaves, is it even Fall?
This is the only picture I have from my dad’s visit. Not sure if this camera is making me look more tan or if it’s just making the pops look more pale. Hernando has been away from the beach for too long, losing all of his island melanin, but we look more related now, yeah? Kicking myself for not thinking of taking any photos. (My grandpa took this one.) ME, THE GIRL WITH HANDS GLUED TO HER CAMERA, FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH HER DAD. Dammit!