I know you're never going to read this. I know you're never going to read this, because you don't read the things I write. You've never seen this blog, you aren't friends with me on Facebook, and you haven't cracked open any published book that has my writing inside of it. In fact, you'd be mortified if you knew I was writing a public letter to you, because you are such a private person.
Today, we had a surprise party for you. It was at your favorite restaurant. We wrapped your presents in Christmas paper and made hand-drawn cards. We've done this for years.
The boys got you things you could understand. Manly things, things that fit what you enjoy. I got you a meal at the restaurant, but at the last minute, I decided to give you something else as well.
I forgot you wouldn't understand the significance of the present, since you don't read my writing. You don't know my weaknesses, you don't know my strengths, my rhythms, my imaginary worlds that spark up inside of me and sometimes don't hold their own on the pages, because I'm still learning my way.
The present was a character playlist I'd made for my favorite character in my thesis project. The character is a father-type figure. He is wise, he's kind, he's protective, and he's the reason why I've kept writing this conflabbit series. He's been a guiding light for Alex and me, even though he's fictional. When Alex and I go through hard times, we look to his guidance, just like we look to your guidance. He's been a great source of introspection and intimate exploration of what it means to be a parent, to have a parent, and to grow up and realize even the happiest and greatest of fathers can be sad sometimes.
This doesn't make any sense to you, I know, you're not a writer. When I got my first car, I put a picture of this character on my keychain so he could keep me safe when you couldn't be there driving with me. You rolled your eyes, not because you thought it was stupid, but because you didn't get it.
When I wrapped this present, I forgot all the times I tried to share my inner world of "writer" with you and it went awry. A few years ago, I asked you to listen to my prologue to the book I was working on at the time. You fell asleep a few paragraphs in. I was in a rage of fury, crying, stomping my feet, leaving the room. You tried to explain, "I don't really get into fiction. I read nonfiction."
"So when I publish a book, you won't read it?"
"Probably not," you said. "But I'll buy it. And I'll love it."
When I did publish my first book, you were first in line at the release party. You bought a ton of copies. You bragged about it to anyone who would listen. You set my book ... and the subsequent books ... on the bookshelf facing outwards, masking your nonfiction because it was as precious as one of my trophies you used to display.
But like I said, you've never read any of them.
So when you opened the present, my first reaction was disappointment in your own disappointment. I tried to explain to you why I'd given you a mix CD of music you might not like. I said, "That's our father character in the book." I tried to tell you that it's because you are my father, you are who he is for my character. I wanted to say that in all of my stories, there have been fathers and daughters dancing together, marching side by side into battle, trying to find ways to communicate the immense love they have for each other.
I said, "The first song is 'Suddenly' from Les Mis," and your eyes bugged and you snorted. Les Mis is not your speed. But Hugh Jackman singing about Cosette is what I think of when I think of the fear of becoming a father. I wanted to share it with you.
We don't speak the same language. And while I felt a tinge of frustration, of anxiety, when you confusedly read my track list, I can't be mad anymore.
You might not read my stories. You might not be able to connect with my characters and my plots and gain a deeper understanding of who I am, of who you are to me. But then again, I never took up martial arts and connected with you. I came to all of your tournaments, saw how big the trophies got, clapped when you broke boards. But I never dug in deeper than that.
And maybe, now that I'm an adult, I can comprehend that just because we don't speak the same language, we can understand we love each other. We can receive the bond we give one another today.
"Thanks for dinner," you say.
"No problem," I say.
"What a surprise!"
I can send you a picture via text of the two of us, standing outside Grandma's house, you holding me, looking at nothing but me, and me laughing and waving my arms around, safe and happy in your arms.
You can write back, "That's us! I love you."
I will keep listening to your stories about tae-kwon-do and Irish culture. You keep collecting my stories and putting them on your bookshelf. We're going to be okay.
With all my love,
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.