March 3rd, 11:40

January 21, 2008
By Ann Lupo, Weston, CT

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach
us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us at all.”
Umberto Eco

My father subconsciously taught me many things on March third at around 11:40. It was a sunny Saturday morning resembling the many that had come before it. Islands of snow littered the ground outside in anticipation of the next storm. The dirty imperfections contrasting with their white innocence could be seen from my kitchen window. I took my seat at the middle stool of my kitchen counter as a pile of waffles was deposited onto my plate. To my right, my sister had just sat down after giving my father an “ I missed you!” hug. After being away at college for the past three months, she sank right into her chair and began hungrily carving her waffle into squares. As my father made his way to the opposite side of the kitchen counter I saw a tear in his eye. That should have been the first clue.
Our conversation was lighthearted and jovial. Discussions of our childhood memories and recent news of our present lives propelled the conversation into stomach wrenching laughs an ear-to-ear smiles. A previous obligation had prompted me to excuse myself from the table. A deep solemn voice murmuring, “ Annie, sit back down.” Interrupted my departure, and I immediately returned to my seat with thousands of things now exploding in my mind. My cheeks began to prickle as if molten hot bubbles were popping all over my skin. First a knot began to form in my throat, and then butterflies started fluttering around the pit of my stomach as I prepared myself for the worst. A thousand butterflies couldn’t have prepared me for what I was about to hear.
I don’t remember his exact words, but certain things plummeted onto my soul like a five thousand pound weight. “I’ve had an affair…” I felt my lip begin to tremble. “Mimi.” A sharp inhale sat emptily in my lungs. “ Nine months.” My eyes glued themselves to the spoon that lay horizontally on the counter. His tears were heavy as they descended down his cheeks. My moms face remained calm and wooden as she listened to his prepared monologue they had created together with the couple’s counselor the previous week. After we were excused I walked like a ghost up to my room collapsed on my bed, drowning in my tears. My sister and I fled the house soon after in an attempt to clear our irreversibly polluted minds, but not before we shared an embrace with our mom. Our shoulders were all stained with the tears of unfathomable hurt, shock, and confusion.
Without realizing it, my father taught me a lesson that will forever be branded into my mind. Life can never be predicted and is consistently there to give you a slap in the face every now and again. Someone whose presence you used to trust to bring you such joy could become a stranger in a matter of seconds, it is all unpredictable. But what it really came down to in the end was happiness. His pursuit of the feeling led him to destroy every opportunity for him to achieve it. And now I find that the moments life throws at me where I find myself laughing on my living room floor with my mom and sister make me genuinely happy.

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