There are a lot of things a man can do to impress me. Like remembering little things I said or having knowledge of current events and the ability to hold a normal, adult conversation. Knowing the right things to say, but more importantly, having the conviction to follow-through with promises and nurturing a life outside of our relationship. Or not needing me to be rule his life, no matter how much validity there is to the Oedipus complex.
But above all other things, characteristics, traits or talents – there is one sure-fire way to make your way into my heart: remind me of my father.
The one topic that is the most difficult for me to write about is my dad. Thoughts of him are so tightly sewn to my heart that when I try to put our relationship into words, it feels like it tears at my most delicate areas. I admire him in a way that knows no boundaries, I cannot stay angry at him for any period of time, and when I need to know how to cook or build something, or when another guy stomps on the love I give him, I never want to call anyone by my daddy.
As a retired fire captain, he is the symbol of bravery and courage in my mind. He represents the strength it takes to overcome anything – even an illness that nearly emotionally and mentally paralyzed him for six years. In his weakest of moments and darkest of hours, he still supported me. He never forgot to tell me how much he loves me and when all else had failed, when I didn’t know if tomorrow would be a day he would see, I could rest assured that I was among the lucky and the blessed to have a remarkable father.
And I was also part of the crowd who grew up with a shining example of a supportive marriage. Apart from the time my dad was sick, my parents have been each other’s best friends, confidants, and life partners. They make decisions together, they have hobbies together, they communicate in a language I don’t and would never want to understand. They respect each other and dissolve their anger before laying to rest. Their marriage isn’t perfect and it has seen its trials, but they are still standing – though aging and a tad bored – it’s impossible to deny the love they share.
In every man I’ve dated, each affair I’ve entertained – I’ve looked for my father. For someone who looks at me with the same admiration in his eyes that my dad has when he looks at me or at my mother. I’ve looked for someone to protect me, to comfort me, to chase away the adult monsters that seem so much scarier and life-altering than the ones I thought were under my bed. I’ve looked for someone with that same passion, that same intensity, that some vitality that I see in my sweet daddy – the guy who taught me to ride a bike, drive a boat and a jet ski, and encouraged me to go higher on the swing even when mom thought I was plenty high enough. For someone who will push me to be a better person, he will challenge me, and who will have that same intoxicating smile and laugh that I miss so much inNew York.
But recently, I’ve come to realize that I’m looking for my dad in all the wrong places. He isn’t going to be found in the arms of Mr. Possibility – no matter how many similarities they seem to share. I’m not going to develop and create a relationship or marriage like my parent’s love because that belongs to them, not to me. I’m not going to find my father by searching for his 20 or 30-something form in the streets, bars or buses of Manhattan.
The only place I’m going to find my daddy, my hero, is by pressing “5” on my speed dial. Or by logging into Skype or sending an email to Captain Tigar. Or by way of a direct flight from JFK to Asheville, where he’ll be there standing and waiting for me with a silly hat, a big goofy grin and a tear running down his cheek he’ll try to hide.
And that’s where he should be.
Maybe we look for our parents in the relationships we have as adults and maybe we sometimes look for the exact opposite – but what if instead of investigating who has the most potential to reincarnate our dads…we valued our father? We made who he is special. And help that daddy/daughter relationship as sacred as it deserves to be. What if we kicked our own daddy complex out the window?
I’m not going to meet someone who is just like my father and no man, regardless if he’s my boyfriend, my lover or my husband will ever mean what my dad means to me. Nor should he. No other man could ever compare. The love of my father I keep in my heart wherever I go belongs to me and my dad, no one else.
Because I don’t want to meet another daddy. I love the one I have too much to share him.