As my daily readers might have guessed, this story is part of a series. There are four links to this chain and the first two you can read by clicking on Fresh off the press and Special Delivery if you are just now joining me. Either way, Hi! I am glad you are here and if you don’t like a blog quadrilogy then you might want to skip today, tomorrow and like the next five days after that as I have a quintology (not a real word – pentology, maybe? Nope, that is redlined in autocorrect too…) coming up.
I went through at least twenty names before I got to his. Teachers, former bosses, and a favorite aunt were all ruled out; I stopped just short of Beyoncé (Bey hive for life!) before I landed on the person who seemed so obvious now; my Dad. Now would be a great time to launch into the children-of-divorce diatribe about life but I could never make that script really my own. Life is complicated and people are messy and at the end of the day it’s always revealed that we are both the good guy and the bad guy in a given scenario, but you should know that my parents divorced when I was around seven and I never lived with my Dad after that.
It seems unsettling to know that I didn’t grow up with him in that sense; how could someone who somehow “knows” that I spent the previous night crying and calls so that I can put words to those sobs also be such a minutiae mystery to me. I never wanted the answers to the big questions like if the neighbors in his new development ever asked about me and my older sister, we had visitation with him, so we were around sometimes. I wanted to know what his face looked like when I failed a math test or how he would handle a bad day on top of a bad day on top of another bad day as we primarily spent weekends together and they were always fun.
He showed up in big ways – driving to Orlando when I made it to a state swimming competition, and buying, preparing and serving Dolphin Robert for an entire wedding reception for me – not my actual wedding, mind you, a MOCK wedding that students in my class had to put on for a grade in a home-economics class in high school (I was a bridesmaid – the token role for any middle child). My mom, who did so much grunt work for me (home computers were just coming on the scene, you whippersnappers) typing papers (on the TYPEWRITER and she rarely, if ever had to backspace) and taking over the day to day grind of child rearing could have been terrible about those things – I have seen it played out with lesser people – but she smiled kindly with wet eyes and a few hard swallows when I told her later that night about watching Dad pull out sternos and chafing dishes from his car – unrolling chef tools and preparing a meal just for my class project in my very own school. Like everyone else who has parents who also happen to be human beings, my situation is unique and so is my love for my parents.
Back to the phone call though, as I started with my maiden last name and the (exasperated) representative finally could tell me, yes, in fact, it was my Dad – I had to wonder how he knew that I wanted the paper so badly. I sent him a text that read (in part) “To quote the Godfather, “I know it was you, Fredo, you broke my heart”. But in a way that lets the light pour in and leaves you better, not murderous”. That text led to a conversation about seeing articles I had “liked” on Facebook from the New York Times and how I was getting dangerously close to reading the ten or twelve free articles that they let you read monthly. Weekend after weekend that care package hit the driveway on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Until last Friday, when it never landed and I tried to quell the rising panic, it was a gift after all, had my luck run out?
Tomorrow will conclude the New York Times subscription chronicles. I want to thank everyone who has messaged me telling me that they have gotten a kick out of the series. I have another five part real time project that I will roll out on Thursday and then I will get back to my original format.