Recently, I went to where I spent every summer vacation as a kid with my family. I went with just my dad.
We visited all of our old haunts.
There were the happy childhood ghosts. Smells, sights, ingrained into the very fibre of my being, causing whiplash because the present is so cold and careful, when my childhood was just the opposite. The idea of dad himself is full of happy childhood ghosts, more than anyone else (when I came back here I was shaking and spooked for a week from all this, bug eyed. I’m still spooked, though mom did come here a week later, which doesn’t help).
So there was that.
I had a good time, if I was careful and followed the rules. I put on different masks, one right after another, because I just don’t know who dad, or anyone in my family, is expecting anymore. It isn’t me, because when it is they close off and drift away, and then I shut down and don’t come back for another shot at it for a long time.
I want a dad. I had a dad, when I was a kid. My parents divorced, so he was gone in one sense for awhile (other than every other weekend), before they remarried each other. But mostly, as life grew more painful and more complicated, the less dad was there for me. My sisters told mom complicated things. I felt obligated to do so at times (she has recently called me her project, to give you an idea about how that storyline goes), but really I wanted to tell dad, and be his son, even though I didn’t have the words for it.
When I told dad I was trans, the door shut completely, and for a long time I had nothing. In the beginning of it all, I think I told you already, I went psychotic, when a blast of cold greeted me when I came out to my family (that was the main reason for it, I think). I went back in the closet for awhile before coming out again, despite their cold. In order to keep it together in college, I had to build an invisible bridge to a deity father figure, real or not.
Dad has said things since, over time, on the surface, like a birthday card that said he couldn’t ask for a better son, or something like that (I have since lost it), and admitting that he might have been wrong, to my aunt, or writing a poem about my transition (a painting and a placemat came out of that too). He has tried other things too, to try to speak my language, like playing my song in the car, and babbling why he chose it for his music class, or attempting to watch superhero movies (and insulting everything about them, but he tried, haha). It is things like these I try to remember when the door hurts, because there’s never been anything to back them up, or build anything, and that’s all I’ve got.
He’s never followed through. The energy around us is that of a storm building, even as the tone of what we say is stilted and half apologetic, like after a fight. When we are in the same room, we are aware of each other, and can’t really let settle down. I can never bring up anything to do with manliness, or transliness (everything I’ve learned up to this point I’ve basically learned from the internet, it’s really sad). We have this unwritten rule of not using the public restrooms at the same time. He’s trying to get to know me again, yes, but only enough so that we can actually hold a ‘pleasant’ conversation about something, instead of just sitting in the room hoping someone else will come in. Every time I slip past pleasant and into actual humanity with him, or any of them, the door slams in my face.
And so, I dance.
I must keep the mask up, and know the steps.
Otherwise I wouldn’t know them at all.