It was the way he helped me open that pink Barbie convertible box on Christmas day. The way he showed me his strength, by ripping it apart with his bare hands. He didn’t use a pocketknife; he just ripped open the box like he was ripping a piece of paper. He was so strong. He was so perfect. My superhero, he was my dad. The gift meant so much to me. It wasn’t just a plastic car to put my dolls in; it was a gift from my dad. He picked it out especially for me, and that’s why I stood there with excitement in my eyes.
I didn’t have his eyes actually, or his lips, but I especially didn’t have his nose. He was my dad, but I didn’t have his nose. He raised me, he clothed me, he fed me, but I just couldn’t possibly comprehend why I couldn’t have his nose. This mismatching feature tore me to pieces. I wished he was my biological father, and that tore me to pieces even more. I wasn’t raised to love him; I was born to love him. He is my father.
When I became ten he moved away. No, my parents didn’t get divorced. Well, at least not yet. He got a job that required him to move thousands of miles away. With my sister on the way, my dad had to leave. When he left, things changed. My mom cried all the time, and I had a new sister. My mom was a good mom. Well, she became a good dad too.
When my dad came home about twice a year he would bring gifts. He brought awesome lamps, jewelry, clothes, and so many other things I can’t remember. The first time he came back, he brought me a white gold necklace with a tiger’s eyes marble inside two clasped hands. He was ecstatic to explain to me what it meant, and how it reminded him of me. As he sat there bringing out all the gifts from the foreign countries I remembered the pink Barbie convertible. I wanted him to pull out a pink Barbie convertible. I wanted him to be my superhero again. He didn’t pull out a convertible, just more expensive gifts.
As the years passed on, the gifts became a ritual. Gifts didn’t mean birthdays, or Christmas anymore. They took on a whole new meaning. A new gift began to represent the trip he had been on. The longer he was gone, the bigger the gift. In fact, I am writing this with the most recent trip. It’s probably the longest one yet: Over a year in fact. Did you know a year of heartache could get you a new computer? Don’t get me wrong, I am way past grateful, but I’d hand you this laptop for the last nine years back.
Maybe I’m being too dramatic, or too emotional. Maybe, I just don’t understand. Maybe I’m too young, or maybe I’m just naïve, but when you become accustomed to your little sister crying in her father’s empty bed, come tell me how dramatic I’m being.
I can’t fathom why I got to have the Barbie convertible days, and my sister didn’t. All she’s gotten is two out of nine birthdays with him, and numerous boxes of missed birthday gifts. She’s never met my superhero, and for that, I am saddened.
But he is my father, and he raised me from a million miles away for half of my life, and that’s more than the man who has my nose can say.
It takes a different kind of man to leave his family behind and try to hand them the world. It doesn’t work. I can’t show you numerous pictures of my dad, mostly because I don’t have many. Looking through my pictures, I realized I couldn’t fully complete the pieces of what my words can explain. Maybe that’s why writing has become easy for me. I can’t show you an album of memories, because those are memories I carry in my heart. Oddly enough, I can’t find the picture of him helping me open that Barbie convertible. I can’t show anybody the look on my face, or the emotion I felt, but then again, I think I just did.