I called my dad on his birthday this week. After the divorce I would never call him, special occasion or not, simply because I needed to distance myself from the situation. He did call me on mine last year though, which reestablishes a sort of precedence and ritual, and he actually thanked me for the call.
We made the usual small talk, about work and home.
He told me he bought a car: a 2006 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG hard-top convertible with 18″ rims and 7‑speed-automatic transmission. He’s going to keep the Beemer for winter driving. It filled my heart with quiet joy when he said I could drive it the next time I visited him. Not so much because he was letting me (for I was always allowed to drive the Sportline 300CE while living at home), but because I could tell in his voice that he wanted me to try it.
I asked him if there’s any history of colorectal cancer in the family, which the doctor wanted to know at my last appointment, to which my dad answered, thankfully, no. He shared with me his own health concerns, the medical terms of which he only knows in Chinese. These are things I avoid asking about when I visit him, as he pops some pills from a bottle kept with the dishes in the kitchen, and I realize that I’m learning more about my dad than ever. It’s not so much out of a need for privacy or avoidance of embarrassment, but simply out of convenience, as these topics would never get brought up.
I remember him trying to teach me photography when I was younger, but he soon lost interest, in both photography and me1. Maybe it’s the distance that makes us appreciate each other more, and it wouldn’t be the same if we lived in the same city.
In a way, I’m glad to have the relationship now, and I’m able to forget that I’ve never had it for most of my life.
- As such, all my photography is self-taught, aside from one trick used to zoom a lens towards the subject so that the edges are blurred that he showed me at the Statue of Liberty. [↩]