Dissection, Part 1

I’m somewhat a reactionary person. What’s on the surface sometimes has nothing to do with what’s just below the surface, which usually has a lot to do with what’s deeper.

This particular journey started a year and a half ago, when I had this reaction to some news I received.

It started to end a week and a half ago, when I arrived in Utah. Before I left Florida, I emailed my biological father, asking him what his plans are, and that I had an appointment to talk with an immigration lawyer on Tuesday, June 22.

When the plane landed in Salt Lake City, I texted Biodad, asking him if he was still in the country, and that if he didn’t respond to the text or my email within the next day I would cancel the appointment.

Within the next hour he texted back, saying that he was still in the country, and that he’d be moving back to the Philippines for good in December. He asked when a good time to call would be. I told him Saturday afternoon.

I was hopeful about not meeting with the lawyer.

The next day was Friday. I woke up early to meet with a friend on campus. Later that afternoon Biodad called, and I answered. He asked me if I would still meet with the lawyer and ask about how much the services would cost, and if they were too expensive, he’d go back to the Philippines.

Maybe I should back up a little bit.

A few months earlier, he asked me for a favor, and over the phone, he sounded pretty bashful. He knows I recently obtained American citizenship, and he wanted to know if I would do a paternity test with him so that he could use his blood relationship as grounds to apply for a green card.

He said he didn’t want it to be like he was using me.

He expressed absent-father guilt, saying if he could stay in the United States, he’d be able to spend time with me. He’d help me pay for school, he’d buy me this thing or that thing. He’d pay for the paternity test.

I told him I would think about it.

At the beginning of my New York/Florida trip, which was the beginning of May, I scheduled an appointment with an immigration lawyer. The consultation was free; it would be useful. I texted Biodad, but he did not respond.

So a week and a half ago, when we were talking on the phone, his quality time with me is suddenly conditional. Lawyers are expensive. Obtaining a green card is expensive.

His efforts to maintain contact have not been consistent. In the past year and a half, eight straight months lapsed without a single call or text.

Six months ago, after Christmas, he sent me a Christmas text. He called a few weeks later to explain his silence: his wife was visiting from the Philippines.

And last month? when I was debating to go forward with the lawyer and didn’t hear from him until a week and a half ago? One of his daughters was in town (somewhere in Alabama), pregnant. She gave birth to a baby girl on May 15.

When people stop talking to me, I think either it’s because they’re trying not to lie to me outright, or they’ve abandoned me, stopped caring about me, somehow helped create the dark vacuum that I’ve been sucked into. This is a sick (unhealthy) way to react, I know, but I grew up in a very noncommunicative family. The wounds run deep.

I mean, of course life happens. People get absorbed, focused, busy. On a fundamental level, I understand that. But the reality of it is, when he doesn’t have time to talk to me because he has a wife – who is not my mother – visiting, and when he doesn’t respond to something he thought was important – AND that he INITIATED – because his daughter and brand new baby granddaughter are immediately present, his intentions weaken. I can no longer hold him to his word. His promises dissolve into nothing. He simply cannot divide his attention. He’s already let me down too many times to expect that. Another chance is out of the question.

And then – and THEN – he reminded me that last Sunday was Fathers’ Day. Then, just to be spiteful, I reminded him he forgot my birthday. He said that wouldn’t happen again.

I didn’t end up calling him on Fathers’ Day. I may not be a very good person sometimes or even a good daughter, but I am not his daughter, at least in the same sense that he is not my father.

Last Tuesday, I met with the lawyer, and she said some things that made a lot of sense and brought great clarity to the situation. She ended up saving me money and further grief. We shook hands, and I left her office. Before I could exit the building, sobs ambushed me, similar to how I reacted a year and a half ago. I stepped outside and took a deep breath, then I walked the four blocks in the bright sunshine to the bus stop.

This Summer’s Solstice Is My Soul’s Poultice

Bless this sunshine.

Fifteen hours of it yesterday, and I’m in a part of the world where I can enjoy it with the least amount of whining.  It surprises me just as much to find myself declaring Utah such a dandy place. The mountains are green with the slightest veinings of snow at their summits, pushing the clouds higher, clearing the sky.  The lows are in the 50s and the highs graze the 80s; the lack of humidity allows one to actually feel the temperature range and even the difference between standing in the shade and under the sun in the middle of the day. It’s neat.

I feel I can breathe.

Yesterday was also the first day of class for the summer term. I was up before the sunrise, just because I can’t seem not to sleep in. I prepared for the day, caught the bus, went to class, went for a run, took a shower, did my homework, wrote for a little bit, went to hang out with the church group at the bishop’s home in Pleasant Grove; we picked strawberries and watched chickens and enjoyed the summer evening air until 9:45, when the sun seemed reluctantly to set. I got home, then my day got even more interesting.

The night air was cool, but not bracing. That only meant getting out of the hot tub was that more refreshing. The time spent before and after that thermal dip sets the tone for my summer.

Oh man, does it ever.

I walked back to my apartment and toweled off and got dressed. I went to bed a little after midnight and ended up waking up at 2:45 this morning. My mind was racing, and I loved it. I finally settled down after an hour and woke up again at 6am, then my day began as usual.

It’s interesting how summer days unfold.

A little text from my phone, outbound: “It was nice spending some time face to face. My thumbs definitely appreciate the break. : )”

In response: “I feel we accomplished much more in the few minutes than days of thumb reps!”

I met with an immigration lawyer today about an immigration issue. The discussion boiled down to somebody sucking an egg. That somebody is neither I nor the lawyer.

Summer feels really good so far. Keep it coming.

What’s It All About?

January 1, 2010. I’m sitting at a computer that isn’t mine; at a desk, in a house, in a city nowhere near the places I’ve called home. No one else is awake at 7:16 AM, and I can’t go back to sleep. It’s a little chilly in this living room, and I fold my arms and make fists between typing to keep warm. It’s a new year, but it mostly feels like just another tick of the clock. I’ve already started over, reanalyzed, planned. I am beginning to execute. I don’t think I’ve been this excited in a long, long time.

I miss certain things. And people.

2009 was … fun. I mean, I did lose my job, but because that happened, I’m here now. I’m shrugging instead of crying. Look at me now, this is where I’m supposed to be, where I actually want to be.

I may change my tune … to a different key, but only because I probably won’t be able to sing the really high notes, so I’ll just shift them down a half-step or so. Same song, though.

I’m not going to change my mind.

Becoming an American citizen. Having the best summer of my life. Reconnecting with family. Nurturing forever friendships.

It’s been a tremendous year.

***

My biological father texted me on the 30th. I’m on the phone with my dad right now.

Nifty. The usual unpredictability.

2010, looks like you’re not going to disappoint.

It’s Cool, It’s Cool

What I’ll miss: Family stuff
One of the funnest parts about living in New York City is the people who come and visit. You get to see this place through their eyes; you get quality time in the form of wide-eyed walks and weaving through traffic and fun places to eat. Moreover, your people trust you to help them navigate the city. They know you know the city better than they do, and at least for me, that kind of responsibility was empowering. Without living here, I don’t know if my family will visit New York City ever again.

Another thing I’ll miss is the New York City family, those who’ve chosen to live and be married and raise children here. I have a lot of married friends, and they’ve been so generous to invite me over to hang out and eat and talk about fun and serious things; they let me gripe occasionally about the single life. I’ve admired their healthy marriages and observed how relationships should work. I love being friends with couples and families who are so open about figuring things out. Communication fascinates me, mostly because my family didn’t do it well at all when I was growing up. Also, the noise and chaos here seem to command more effective communication. Words really have to cut through the non/verbal sludge; I don’t think I’ve expressed ideas and feelings more clearly during any other part of my life.

What I won’t miss: Family stuff
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t written about my biological father because he seems to have vanished from my life. He contacted me almost a year ago, I freaked out. We started talking every Sunday for about a month. And then, the phone calls stopped. I told him I was interested in meeting him, in finding out who he is and discovering a little more about who I am; I became excited about the prospect. He insisted, almost begged me for my mom’s phone number, and I told him that she had his number, and that if she wanted to talk, she’d call him. Did he try calling me only for the chance to talk to my mom? Did he stop when he felt she’d never talk to him, oh, because she’s married? and he’s married? and I’m really the only thing they have in common now that their lives are separated by 30 years and 12,000 miles and other children? I mean, he disappeared as abruptly as he returned, except I don’t have and clear explanation why, and I’d really like to understand instead of speculating. I suppose something happened where he might have needed to return to the Philippines: an emergency, or his wife maybe forbade him from further contact, because he said she didn’t believe he’d fathered another child who wasn’t theirs. Unless he tells me, I’ll never know. His lack of communication disenchants me. I’m neither better nor worse off from this experience, which is why I won’t really miss my biological father.

Another Quote, and My Life Is Seriously Just Beginning

“Any man, any man would be proud to stand up and say he is your father.”

-My Dad

I write here because I feel safe here.

My tear ducts had no warning whatsoever when my dad said that. It was like my heart immediately swelled and pumped a mild, saline solution that streamed freely from my eyes. One of the very few things that brings me to instant, spontaneous tears is when my parents acknowledge the innate and deep bond I have with them. The very thing that will always be there regardless of the wacky and bizarre circumstances that keep popping up in my life; regardless of the knee-jerk reactions and judgments I have to past behaviors or forgotten memories or whatever else. That bond, that’s the core of my heart. It is truly a blessing. 

My dad was not a perfect man, but he was a good man, and he raised me. I really miss him.

I missed two calls today:

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This is still so very weird to me, people.

I sent a text message to BioDad, saying I was sorry I missed his call and told him to have a good week.

I returned Dad’s call, and we had a nice talk. He seems to be doing well. It’s great to hear him talk about how his prayers are being answered and how his life is getting back on track.

Some fun facts about BioDad:

-He’s 5’4″. You totally could take him.
-We try to talk every week, or at least every other week.
-His SISTER, who lives in ROCKLAND COUNTY, called me this last week. I returned her call. She invited me to visit her sometime. She’s probably in the category of people who didn’t believe I existed. She actually suggested a paternity test to him. Just to make sure. That’s weird.
-The other person who doesn’t believe I exist? His wife. She’ll be coming to the States in about a month to stay for … about a month. BioDad wants to introduce me to her. That should be interesting.

To bring up the cliche, all the wacky and bizarre things happening in my life are happening for a reason. Or many reasons. Think of how many lives are being influenced. I’m looking forward to all that might unfold. This is all for the greater good, the grand plan, the eternal scheme, the massive, boundless picture.

Also, to those whose ears have fallen victim to my verbal processing of the real-time play-by-play, thank you. Dear friends, you are. You’re the best.

Sunday Afternoon

So, we’ve taken to texting. When I called him on Monday, he kept calling me back. He left a message, then finally I sent him a text message saying I couldn’t talk any more that day, and for him to leave a message. I also told him to calm down. He then texted me apologizing for the news he shared during our phone call, then he said how excited he was to be talking to me.

He texted me later in the week asking me for Mom’s phone number. I told him I wasn’t comfortable giving it to him. I told him that she had his number, and if she wanted to talk to him, she would call. I told him I was looking forward to seeing him.

The next day he asked if he could introduce me to his sister who lives upstate. I said that was fine. He asked me where I live, and I told him north Manhattan, with two roommates. I told him that I’d like to meet in a public place, and I said I was sure he understands.

He said he couldn’t visit this month. He tried remembering my birthday. Then he asked if he could call Saturday or Sunday. I told him to call Sunday. He got my birthday right, except he was off by a year. He said 1975, and I’m a 76er.

He said he’d call on Sunday. He told me he loves me, take care, and God bless.

That last part was a little weird. He loves me, because he loved my mother. I might be rather lovable, too.

We talked this afternoon. He had a chance to hold me when I was a baby. He remembers my features. He said I look like his father. I thought about how Mom said I look a lot like him. He said he’d really like to talk to my mom, even just for a few minutes. I told him it was her choice. I’m not budging with giving out a phone number that isn’t mine. I’ve told Mom all of this already.

I write here because I feel safe here.

The phone call was full of nervous tension. I’m not crazy about talking on the phone to begin with, but I appreciate the effort he’s making. I like that he’s willing to introduce me to all the family he’s made known to me in the past few days.

He speaks excitedly; I can tell a lot is on his mind. It’s a little awkward still for me, but I am happy to answer his questions and jog his memories. He’s answered a lot of my questions, but he can’t exactly jog my memories. Our relationship is a bit asymmetric.

Also, I haven’t thought a lot past what happens when he’s answered all my questions. He wants to establish an actual relationship.

He’s very sweet and well-meaning, and he only says nice things. He texts when I want to text, and he respects when I can talk on the phone and the conditions for our in-person meeting, which might actually be in a couple of months.

He might be gaining my trust.

He’s been a very patient man.

Apparent

Apparently I met him once, when I was five. We were stationed in Guam. I do not remember this.

Apparently his children with his wife, my half siblings, are all brilliant and successful. I have three.

Apparently he and my mom came up with a story so my dad wouldn’t have to ask his permission to adopt me.

Apparently, he still adores my mom.

That’s what he told me.

I picked up the phone and dialed. He answered. Mr. Garcia? Yes. Hi, this is May Anderton. Oh, hi.

We talked for about ten minutes.

He is a soft-spoken man.

He speaks pretty good English.

He is 60 years old.  I was born when he was 28. My dad had just turned 32.

So much more information, but it’s not right to publish it here, at least not now.

We said a lot in those ten minutes. We’re very efficient.

My life hasn’t really gotten any more complicated. He’s a figure from my past, and knowing that I didn’t know him doesn’t change who I am today. Jenny reminded me I turned out pretty awesome. So, there’s that.

I write here because I feel safe here.

Apparently, he wants to come meet me. He says it’ll be in about a month. Whatever public place, whatever terms I lay down. Maybe I could have a few of you around at a safe distance, in trenchcoats, hats and sunglasses. Walkie-talkies.

I don’t think he’s very tall. You could totally take him.

Anyone up to it?

My head doesn’t quite know how to process this.

What the Heck

I write here, because I feel safe here.

I know you got my back.

Mom gives me updates.

I give you updates.

BioDad is in Mobile, Alabama on a work visa.

He keeps calling my mom’s cousin.

Who’s now screening her calls.

And actually blocking his calls.

Also, he needs to calm down.

If I’m to act, I need to act fast.

And with a lot of guidance and strength from prayer.

He’s actually kind of hunting me down.

I’ve calmed down considerably since Sunday. I promise. I’ve considered calling my therapist, because I could really use a therapist’s help. The therapist knows my entire life story and could offer some reason and encouragement to pray about this situation, just like all of you have. It’s been an entire year since my last appointment.

An update:

Apparently, my biological father hasn’t asked around for my mom. He has asked for me, specifically.

He travels between the Philippines and San Francisco regularly.

He has even been to Florida.

This brings me to ask, have we seen each other and not known it? Could we have met? Could our paths have crossed with us completely oblivious to each other?

Also, why is he so determined?