One of my great joys in the past few months was reconnecting to my father on a recent trip to Tucson.
Before this trip, I hadn’t seen my dad in nearly three years. He was on the West Coast, trying to make a fresh start in San Diego. I was on the East Coast, planning to make a fresh start in Asheville.
Our communication became increasingly infrequent. One phone call a month turned into every two or three months. Soon, we were just exchanging emails at Christmas and birthdays. Finally, I stopped hearing from him all together.
It wasn’t caused by an argument. There wasn’t a specific moment where we had a falling out. It wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t my fault. It was just a lifetime of struggling to connect, struggling to understand one another, struggling to be a father, struggling to be a son.
When my dad moved out of the house when I was 13, I spent most of my teenage years in a mental haze of anger and abandonment that I could barely understand. All I knew then was that I didn’t want to become anything like my father. He was deeply religious, so I left the church. He was an athlete, so I turned to the arts and poetry. Above all, I was certain that I never wanted to become a father. The thought of bringing a child into the world, only to pass on the same dysfunctional patterns, terrified me to the core.