When I was a young girl I thought God had made a mistake. I watched the boys with envy as they played at everything outside. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to emulate them; from peeing standing up (and failing at that for obvious reasons) to riding the scariest roller coasters even when I didn’t fulfill the height requirements.
At first I thought this was because I wanted to be a boy – they had so much more fun and no one batted an eyelash if they got dirty or stayed out a little past curfew. Now I think it was just because I wanted to be like my dad.
My father and I always had a very special bond. We both enjoy similar things: reading, long walks in the forest preserve, our many books, intellectual discourses on current events and international affairs and learning new things. In college I would call him to discuss the latest philosophy I was obsessed with at the time (except for my brief affair with nihilism because I didn’t see the point).
My father is well versed in philosophy and speaks six different languages fluently. He’s traveled the world and lived through many adventures, but like many immigrants to this country – it was not out of choice, but necessity.
When I was 22 I saw it fit that I should live out a few adventures of my own and announced that upon my graduation I would be backpacking through the jungles of Mexico solo. My mother didn’t take the news very well, but my dad somehow understood my desire to explore the world around me. After my first taste of living on the road with little to my name I sought out more adventures – living with wolves, backpacking through Guatemala, back to Mexico, roadtrips etc; sometimes solo, sometimes with others.
Older now, I realize just how terrifying all of this must have been for my parents. They had adventures and traveled some in their youth, of course, but those adventures were not out of a place of privilege and pure curiosity as mine are. They both worked so hard so that my brother and I would have comfortable childhoods and comfort is often times the last thing I seek – equating it with stagnation.
My dad and I share similar personalities – outgoing but love to spend time alone; enjoy humans but sometimes understand animals better and we don’t concern ourselves with fashion too much (sorry mom). Naturally, it was my father I called first before breaking up with my first boyfriend for counsel, and the one I kept calling for advice on the many boyfriends that followed.
I often think about my father when I write – would he like my latest blog post? Could I write something thought provoking yet touching simultaneously? Could I challenge something that hasn’t been challenged before? Could I too, be as wise?
I don’t try to pee standing up anymore, but I still find ways in which I subconsciously emulate my father. This often takes form through speaking to strangers about anything, delving into different cultures and my “dad sense of humor” as described by my friends. It shows itself in my constant wanderlust for adventure and love of Indian food. It’s driven me to question everything and remain open to the answers to come.
God doesn’t make mistakes because he made sure I had a father who always found a way to understand me as I am: wild, sometimes rogue and slightly unconventional. There are no words for the gratitude I have for that.