Blinded by Innocence
Every Friday afternoon, I waited on the bench under the wide window at the front of the house, eager to see my father’s silver BMW parked by the small pathway leading to the front door. He was my hero, coming to save me from my mother’s boring weekend of chores and take me away for an adventurous one.
My dad never did show up. At least, not every time he said he would. Most of the time, there wasn’t even a phone call about the cancellation. My young eyes viewed the world with such innocence that his neglect didn’t matter to me. The rare weekends that he appeared were worth the wait. I would hop in the car, and he would first say, “What should we do this weekend?” as we drove down the street away from my mom’s house. Those special days were filled with going to the mall, getting salty pretzel bites, walking through crowds while sipping sweet and sour strawberry lemonade, and browsing all my favorite stores for the trendy clothes and spunky items my mom would never buy for me. During summer in a neighboring state, we drifted on a sparkling lake in his red and white speedboat. Sometimes we would dock the boat for the night and set up camp. The smell of grilled hot dogs, burnt marshmallows for s’mores, and the fresh pine trees filled the air as we laughed about the daytime events. It was always something new as we traveled all around the states, but the place I was most excited about as a child was California, due to the many different theme parks and beaches. All in all, to my younger self, it did not matter how absent he was because it made those sparse appearances much more special.
As I grew older, the smoke and mirrors evaporated—an understanding of what kind of man and father he was came to light. The realization hit that all those spoils from the stores at the mall were merely his way of buying my love to avoid his guilt. My father was never there when it mattered. I never saw his face in the audience at a softball game, dance recital, or track meet. Teachers at my school didn’t even know his name. Close friends and boyfriends thought he was a myth, a fantasy of some fun life I imagined in my head. They weren’t entirely wrong, because as I grew into adulthood, his visits became vague and almost non-existent. It was then that I finally saw his true colors and what I meant to him. I put in all my effort to maintain a relationship with my dad, but I was a fool to believe that he could ever be the respectable father I thought he was. The childhood imagination of our bond disappeared. In my early twenties, I lost my biological father, not to death, but from a lack of his communication. My mother always says, “What God takes, he gives.” Even though I am not religious, I often think about that quote. Through my failed efforts to connect with my flakey, unreliable father, I gained quite a close friendship with my mother and stepfather. My stepfather may not be my parent through blood, but he is an honorable and trustworthy man. He stepped up to the plate, ready to swing at anything that came my way. Had it not been for him, I might have trust issues. I might have thought promises were lies that could not be kept. Thankfully I don’t hold on to those emotions. Years ago, I stopped putting in all the effort, trying to build or rebuild something that was not there with my dad. I still feel guilt for not putting in the effort, for fear that one day he will pass on to the next life, and my chances will be gone. Still, the relief of relinquishing the weight of trying to carry a one-sided relationship feels phenomenal. At this point in my life, I don’t need him as my hero because now I am the hero of my story.
Parirou Djafari is a hard-of-hearing, talented visual artist. She appreciates her parents, who have been her primary motivation for becoming interested in art. She doesn’t remember why she became interested in painting or drawing self-portraits, but through them, she can show her identity, ability, and empowerment. According to Parirou, “There are only two styles of my self-portrait paintings: the serious and the smirk.”
Ariana Limon is a 29-year-old born and raised in Arizona. Currently, she lives in Arcadia with her partner and two Dobermans. During her free time, she enjoys dancing, hiking, and traveling. She’s pursuing her undergrad in business ownership and plans on transferring to NAU from Phoenix College. Once she graduates from NAU, she hopes to attend Sonoran University for a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Ariana’s dream is to one day own her own naturopathic practice in Arizona.