A situation. Some thoughts. Many words.
I think my father is ashamed of me.
My suspicion started with a prayer and has since been reinforced through derogatory remarks and apathetic reactions. Perhaps to say it started with a prayer is shifting the blame; it’s more appropriate to admit it began with some ink, a needle, and a right to permanency.
The tattoo was found during a prayer, and his first remark sparked the idea that perhaps he was ashamed. Perhaps he was disappointed. Perhaps he didn’t approve of my choices, interests, and thoughts.
Perhaps I didn’t care. I like to tell myself that I still don’t.
But I’m home from my first semester of college, and he still hasn’t told me that he’s proud. He knows that I’m in a leadership program and the honors college, that I’m published in multiple print publications, and that I’m serving in the community. What he doesn’t know is that I’m craving approval and love in other areas.
I didn’t think I would become one of those girls who constantly vie for the affection of the opposite sex, but last night, I found myself sitting around a fire pit with three men, puffing away my convictions on a Black and Mild cigar.
There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with my actions, but I’ve found myself spending more time with men than women. Not because I’m more comfortable with them, but because I care more of their opinions than of girls’ opinions, and masculine words leave longer bruises, both good and bad.
So I sat on a stump, cigar perched between my lips, wearing an old, silk headscarf around my mass of dark curls. They talked theology and creation theories: old earth vs. new earth. I merely wondered how we could see the stars if the earth was young but thanked God for the lights decorating the darkness.
I tried to think of the stars in my life, and the first thing that came to mind was the glowing tip of my cigar. A bit of ash had built up on the end, and I tapped the stick against the side of the fire pit, shaking off the ash into the burning embers. Licking my lips, I tasted the flavor of the tobacco on my mouth, spicy and sharp.
I wasn’t ashamed, but I wondered what they were thinking. What thoughts were hidden behind those innocent blue eyes and tufts of blonde hair? Their youthful rouge was a stark contrast to my pallid cheeks and darkened brows. Smoke clouded my vision, and I looked away from them, unwilling to meet their eyes.
A drop of rain, sudden and icy, slapped my cheek, and the men began to retreat. We put out the fire, extinguished the cigars, and entered the house. After a few minutes, a cup of coffee was in my hands, and an indie film was playing. My eyes were on the screen, but my focus was on the blondes. The pairs of blue eyes.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I had ruined my reputation. I couldn’t help but wonder what they thought of me, how they viewed me, and how they felt about me. What was I to them? What am I to them? What will I be to them?
I don’t know why I care what goes on in their heads. I don’t know why I care if they like me, dislike me, or are neutral about me. I don’t know what I expect of them, and I suppose it’s because I don’t understand friendship. I don’t understand how we are to mesh as individuals. Then again, I don’t mesh well with anyone, especially my father.
Maybe that’s where this existential issue stems. I question my value, purpose, and self as a result of my dad, or lack thereof. We don’t mesh well, we don’t speak, and maybe that’s why I find stars at the tips of tobacco and solace at the bottom of a mug. Maybe he’s why.
Maybe he’s not.