Learning To Love You More




Assignment #52
Write the phone call you wish you could have.

Los Angeles, California USA



Me: hello?
Dad: (in duck voice) linzie winzie? hello linzie winzie.
Me: (in 'knowing/i get it voice') hello.
Dad: (sing-song) how's it going linzie winzie?
Me: it's ok. how's it going with you?
Dad: it's all right i suppose. hangin' in there.
Me: that's good.
Dad: yup.
Me: yup.
Dad: so, i'm calling because i've sensed that the times we've talked these last 2 years, there's been something you've been wanting to say, but haven't been. in fact, i can tell that even though you always talk in an 'up' voice and keep things pleasant conversation-wise, you're really just trying desperately not to cry until we hang up. i want you to tell me what these things are. please. and also, before you do, know that no matter what you say, i will begin to love you immensely, and i will definitely not die and leave you with the guilt of having confronted me and called me on my shit during our final conversation. in fact, if for any reason i do die soon and this is our last conversation, you can spend the rest of your life knowing that our last talk was just right, and that it greatly increased my feelings for you.
Me: wow. really? wow. ok. i'm nervous, but, ok. well, it's very painful for me that every time you call me you ask for money. it would be one thing if i'd grown up with you and if we'd had any sort of relationship ever at all really. but since we never really have, when i see your name on the phone calling me, this little part of me gets this tiny glimmer of hope that you do actually love me and want to see how i am. we start to talk and you ask me how i'm doing and how everything is going and inside i'm praying that your questions stay like that, and don't transition into something else. but sure enough they do-- like you'll say that you've seen me in a commercial and that that's great and that it sure is playing a lot and shit, i must be making a lot of money. or when you called to see how cannes was after i went to france (which was a really big deal to me) and how i must be doing pretty well. and i just say 'yeah' and phone-smile and silently beg you to stop there. but you don't. it's 3 minutes into the conversation and we haven't talked in 8 months, and you ask to borrow money. it would be one thing if we talked regularly or if you ever called to actually see how i am, but you don't. and i know that i say 'wow, i just had to spend all my money on my website' and that i'll check my bank account and let you know what i can do and that i act JUST FINE and like it's no big deal. but the truth is that every time i hang up i hang up i immediately basically collapse on the floor and cry very, very hard. oh, and also, these calls are very painful because you'd do the same thing, like 25 years ago, when i was a kid and i wouldn't hear from you for over a year and then you'd call and your questions would slowly start shifting to my mom and her financial situation and i'd get that same sick, sinking feeling inside and knew it had something to do with child support and law suits.
Dad: wow. that's pretty awful of me. i don't know how i turned out to be such a selfish asshole. but the truth is, i've always loved you in the deepest, biggest way. i know i didn't abandon my other kids the way i did you, but i wish i had, so i could have just devoted myself to loving you. it must have been hard for you to visit and see pictures and home movies of me and valerie and your half-brothers that you weren't in, but know that my life always felt totally incomplete without you. i've always loved you more than any of them, and wished i could have been a real father to you. i'm very, very sorry. Is there anything else you want to tell me?
Me: yeah. remember when i came to visit you in nashville 2 christmases ago and was gonna stay for 3 days, but then had to (unbelievably!!) leave after 15 hours when i found out that i booked a commercial for the pantera bread company or whatever? (what an insane bummer! I just got here!) well the truth is that that was a BIG MOTHERFUCKING LIE that i told so that i could get the fuck away from you and your TOXIC, DEADLY energy. i fact, being in your empty, furniture-less, post divorce mansion that was about to be foreclosed because you were bankrupt from online gambling and whatever else, with your car hidden in the garage so the repossessers couldn't find it and your one can of soup in the pantry that wasn't enough to feed your kids, made me so physically ill, i set my cell phone alarm to go off and sound like an incoming call, and then faked that entire phone conversation about booking the commercial within your earshot (are you serious?! I got the job? I cannot believe the irony of this!! i just got here to visit my dad.) and you know how i had to leave right then for the airport? my flight was actually leaving in about 8 hours, but sitting on the floor of the airport was a better deal to me than having to spend one more second in your house. oh, and returning my rental car was difficult since my bank card had gotten eaten by the ATM at the supermarket when i was withdrawing the $900 you asked for 45 minutes after i arrived in nashville. (i did, however, enjoy that when i told you i would lend you the money, you started being really nice and gentle with me and began proudly introducing me to all your acquaintances at the market as your 'daughter from out of town.') oh, and also, i know i'm 32 know, and shouldn't feel like this, but when you told me that one of the things you needed the money for was so that r and k could have some christmas presents , it was really fucking painful since i don't think you've ever gotten me a christmas present in over 3 decades. i'm an adult and don't need a present from you, but knowing that you were taking my money and using it to give them the childhood i always desperately pined for totally fucking sucked.
Dad: wow! I am so truly sorry. i can't believe i did that to you. I just feel so sorry and guilty when i'm around you that i act totally horrible. but don't worry, all of your brothers' childhoods sucked too, even though it looked good from the outside. L, you are my only daughter and i love you so much. because of that, i now want to change. i want to spend the rest of my life making it up to you and becoming the father you never had. i won't take no for an answer. i'm sure there are so many more hurtful things i've done that you want to tell me about. in fact, i want to set up a weekly time for a phone call, where you can tell me what those are, one by one. but before that, tell me one more big thing.
Me: you're the reason i've needed so much attention from boys my whole life.
Dad: wow! that must have caused a lot of problems for you. i can barely imagine.
Me: yeah.
Dad: well, i'll call you tomorrow, and every day thereafter.
Me: ok.
Dad: oh, i almost forgot. even though i didn't contact you for a year after you sent it to me and have never mentioned it since, i'm so glad you mailed me that AA literature and that list of meetings in the nashville area. i see now that i've been an alcoholic for 40 years. i totally don't deny it! in fact, i have to hang up cause i'm going to a meeting. allright then, L, you are my sweet little baby daughter and i love you more than the universe itself. i love you around it twice and back again. i love you forever.