I’m a woman of obligation. I am a woman of should.
I have spent most of my life doing what was expected. When I was 19, I got a job at a summer camp in the Poconos that would have given me a chance to drive across the country with people I barely knew. I was studying to be a teacher and I could not have found a more fitting summer job. I didn’t go. I had other “obligations.” I ended up spending a summer in the hell that is known as working retail at the mall.
I never traveled as a teacher, even though I had a chance to study Spanish in Costa Rica as part of an immersion program. But what would I do with my apartment? Instead, I took classes toward my Masters that I never finished so I could earn credits. I worked crappy jobs to save money to pay for the classes that were supposed to bring me more money. It never balanced.
I am driven by a horrible fear of letting people down because I did what I want instead of what is expected. So, I sit with a mountain of regret on most days.
My dad and I did not speak for a year and a half, from July of 2016 to November of 2017. It was stupid. We both know it. We are one and the same. Hot headed and stubborn and prideful and it nearly killed our relationship. Then I made the painful decision to end my marriage.
When I told my mom my marriage was ending, it was hard. I knew she would tell my dad and I was prideful. This was my second marriage and I failed. Again. But the call came in.
“Hi.” Then silence. I didn’t even know what to say. “How are you?” His voice cracked and I knew it hurt him it be making the call. He knew I hurt.
“Not good, Dad. Not good.” And that was all it took.
We talked and we both cried. We didn’t talk about the last year and a half. We just talked. “What do you need?” he asked. All I needed was that call. That touch. That love. That care. I needed him to tell me he loved me.
A few days later my dad called back and asked if I could get a week off in a month or so. He and my mom were going to Zihuatanejo for two weeks and they wanted me to come with them for the first week. He’d pay for everything. I just needed to go. The answer was no. No, I can’t. The contract for my job is out to bid. My team and I have not been doing well. The emotional toll life took on me bled into my job. There was too much going on.
The answer was no. I said yes.
I struggled with that yes. I panicked over that yes. I lost sleep over it. I’d be gone the 6th through the 13th. The decision on the contract is the 24th. If there is a “no”, I’m out of a job. My company loses money.
I went anyway.
I don’t have a single regret about making that decision. That Thursday in January, I was in a small boat off the coast of Mexico, fishing with my dad. We laughed. I caught more fish than he did and I gave him hell’s time over it. My lunch I had pulled out of the Pacific a few hours before. I had dark Victoria beer with my dad, he in his NYPD hat and me in my Giants hat.
Several times he looked at me and said, “These are memories! We’re making memories!”
He smiled and I felt more love from him than I had. We understood each other. Finally.
I can’t get back those 18 months he and I didn’t talk and he won’t live forever and neither will I. But I have that day. That day that I could have and probably should have been in the office. But, I wasn’t there. I was on the boat with a rod and a reel and my dad and the Mexican sun.
I came back to chaos and stress and strife and a big decision to be made. The “no” vote came and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. My taking a trip of a lifetime had no bearing on that decision. I knew I had a rough couple of months ahead of me. But I had that day and I feel my life is changed for it.