It is moments after I’ve conducted an interview with Vander Caballero, and I stare at the phone in my hands, silently weeping. As the tears track down my cheek, I absently wipe at them with the back of my hand, sighing in disgust as drops starting splotching my glasses. The last portion of the interview was an offer of help: if I needed to discuss my own father, I just had to pick up the phone and call. Caballero insisted he could be an ear for my own words, he would be the interviewer as I waxed on about my own life and how it has shaped what I’ve created of it.
It is moments after I’ve finished the story Papo & Yo has to tell, and I slowly look back and forth from the television to the controller in my hand, which is clenched around the controller not in grief, empathy, or mourning for the similar past I have experienced, but in anger.
It is a handful of minutes after I hear the phone ring at an obscenely early hour of the morning, a time when the sun has not risen, and the only people awake are stumbling home from the bars. My mother is yelling, grabbing her keys, and is out the door, running barefoot to the bar across the street, where my father has pushed my brother through glass and is punching him as a piece of glass cuts his eye.
It is a blink and then I meow, my father standing across from me right after I’ve loaded the last of my luggage into the car. He does not realize it, but those are the last ‘words’ I will speak to him (he always hated it when I meowed). He thinks my German weaker than it is, and he didn’t realize that I understood perfectly well that he was talking to his mistress yesterday, a woman he met while getting high with the uncle who serves as the inspiration for my middle name. 2005, and I am headed off to my senior year of college, where I will eventually be part of a documentary of the different types of lives that walk across Wabash’s campus.
It is half an hour or so after the screening of Thy Loyal Sons, said documentary, and a gentleman asks if the director meant to show me in such an isolated light, or if I perhaps did feel isolated on the campus. I mumble some response about my family living on another continent, though not mentioning it is due to economic hardships. I don’t mention the alcoholism of my father’s that thrust my family into poverty and made me feel an outcast in a high school of mostly upper middle class and upper class teens. I was just busy, I proclaim, hoping to deflect any more insight into my loneliness.
It is a few months after I placed that call to Caballero and due to professional courtesy, I feel I cannot call that number. I do feel I need help, but it’s all connected, and my father is only one of those aspects. I realize Papo & Yo does and does not tell my story; it tells only a small portion of it.
It is a few seconds after I wake up in the dark. We have been living without electricity for most of my senior year in high school and I hear my parents fighting in the other room. The question is whether foods or cigarettes will see the last of the money in the bank account used. I think back to the crackers and tomato sauce I had for my last meal and debate whether or not I wish to have that meal again. My father is not an alcoholic — not only an alcoholic. My father is an addict.
It is an hour since my boyfriend has fallen asleep, and I carefully try not to toss and turn so that he stays asleep. I have been thinking about writing this piece all week, trying to exorcise whatever demons I can to hopefully put me in a more ‘positive’ mood, wondering if it will really turn a year of unemployment around and make things work this time. I wonder where the phone number to call to get my life back on track is. Slipping out of bed after kissing said boyfriend on the forehead (and gently meowing at him, imagining the ghost of a smile he’d give me), I sit to write a blog post.