Morning Pages

Conversations With My Father

In conversation with my dad yesterday, my dating life came up. He asked about my “type” and I listed three qualities I’ve learned to look for in a partner; three qualities I’ve learned are the groundwork for satisfaction and that will guarantee my respect. I watched as the muscles in his forehead and brows alternated between confusion and wonder. He then followed up my statement with a comment about me having “high standards.”
My dad is a breed of romantic to a degree of unintentional irony that confuses me.
He says, “there’s someone for everyone”
I ask, “in what capacity?”
He says, again, “there’s someone for everyone”
I say, “if that’s true, what about Mommy?”
He’s quiet, of course. I expected this.
It’s easy to offer the romance of cliches to people who don’t account for human error, or selfishness, or infidelity.
He stops telling me there’s someone for everyone.
I still want an answer for “in what capacity?” but I don’t push it, because he doesn’t know the answer and the truth may sting me because it likely won’t be fair.
I tell him, “I’m still learning to love men who aren’t broken or who don’t need me to fix things,” and realize I am simultaneously trying to love him and protect myself too.
He says something about having a beautiful daughter and I know he’s talking to me, about me. I think about the difference between saying “I have“ versus calling something/someone your own using words like “my” or “mine,” and the sense of emotional proximity each holds. How “I have a daughter in New York” is far less familiar than “my daughter, Ginny, is in New York,” and I am always the former.
He says, “I have to watch what I say around you.”
I say, “words matter.”
I, too, am a breed of romantic, just not the whimsical kind.
My dad says something about “someone will come along and sweep you off your feet.”
I grimace.
Partially because it’s unrealistic, partially because it’s intriguing, mostly because my brain doesn’t let my heart write checks it can’t cash.

Categories: Morning Pages, Prose

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