Monday, February 18, 2013

A New Years Resolution

Sunrise East New York, Bklyn 
I went to see my father, Poppy we call him, yesterday for the first time since I arrived in NYC.  I was nervous about going to see him because of one of  the many new years resolution that I made to myself.  That resolution was to be honest. Not that I've been lying, but I haven't been "telling"...does that make sense?  Well, I haven't told my father that Simon my ex-husband, and I are no longer together.  It's been almost two years since he left and my father doesn't know a thing.  

My family is good at keeping secrets.  My siblings never said anything to my father.  I never asked them not to but through some sort of osmosis, they automatically knew.  And being that my family isn't close, its now easy and effortless for us to keep secrets even when they're no big deal.   We love each other but we live in our own bubbles that are not holding up anymore.  They're suddenly beginning to burst and splatter our lives everywhere.  It's a bad habit that I can trace back to my childhood, through family, through my cultural background, through watching others.   Keeping secrets is a great skill if you're in the CIA, but we're just regular people so why the charade?

 So how dis I get around this? Answering without answering!  By saying things like "We'll see what happens", "Oh he's fine".  General answers you know? And people are smart, they figure it out or at least guess that somethings going on but they accept it; at least for a while.

When I arrived at my fathers place he ranted on and on about the usual subject, his children and our mother.   Both my parents go on and on about each other all the time like broken records.  I decide to change the subject by asking him questions on Haiti.   It worked!   All the while I'm thinking in my head "How do I tell him about Simon"? 

It wasn't all a ploy.  I really wanted to get some information about my fathers life in Haiti because my friend and I are working on a project.  As I grow older I also realize how little I know about my family.  My parents hardly talk about themselves or their lives before they got married and had children.  It's like the past never existed.  But they do have a past and did have a life before America, before we were born.  I learnt that my father was once a young man in his twenties, lifting weights with his friends in Port Au Prince, getting into fights with a friend who was part of the Ton Ton Macoute (military force during president Duvaliers dictatorship in Haiti)  "to show that you're strong" my father said. "Because I beat him up he told me that he was going to bring some men for me.  But I told him I know people to".  "As a man in Haiti you can't be weak, that's when people come after you".  He couldn't remember which arm it was on as he lifts his sleeve to show me the bite mark that proves this battle was real. On his left shoulder is a scar obviously shaped like teeth that I never knew was there.

After three hours of talking I get ready to go.  He asked me if my husband was working. Here it was...the opening I was looking for but dreading.  In honor of my resolution I knew what I had to finally say.  "Simon and I are not together anymore".  His response was " Oh I'm so sorry. So now you're alone?  I kind of figured something was going on".  "You couldn't work it out"?  "No" I said.  "So, if he come back you not going to take him back"?   I knew this question came because he didn't know the details or how long ago this actually happened.  "He's not coming back poppy" is all I said.
I left my fathers place full of information, like I knew him a little better and that hopefully he was getting to know me better.  I feelt like this was the beginning of a new day now that I'm back in Brooklyn. But at the same time it left me trying to swallow a huge lump of reality.

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