Broken Path

September 27, 2011
By , Flower Mound, TX
My dad asked me to bite off more than I could chew. I chewed with all my might, but I just ended up choking. My dad asked, which is not to say my stepfather, even though I call them both dad just the same. On a side note, it’s remarkable how serious people may take a label. I still remember that before my mom remarried, I always called my current step-dad “Uncle John”. And he was fine with that. He did, after all, always seem like a kind uncle to me, whose house we’d visit every once in a while. And his son, Conner, who is now my stepbrother, I suppose I treated about the same as a cousin. It never really occurred to me that calling your stepdad “Uncle” was such a great insult. After all, it implies that your mom married her brother, or cousin, or in-law of some sort. He said he didn’t mind being called either John or Dad, but he wouldn’t tolerate being called Uncle John. And MY dad would’ve much preferred I choose the first option, or called my stepfather Uncle. But I didn’t. It felt more right to call him dad, too. And O! How that infuriated my father. He still hasn’t gotten over it, and states that my stepdad forced me into calling him dad, as could only be done by one under the influence of the devil or the antichrist. Yet calling my stepdad simply dad became ever more natural and habitual. And my Dad’s fury could only grow cold as ice and sharp as steel; it was like a bitter frostbite of cool, calculated contempt. But I eventually digress.
I digress to my dad, asking more of me than I could give. I wanted to do what he wanted me to do…but I just couldn’t. A whole lot of fail was all my dad got for encouraging me to do the almost simple-seeming task. You see, both of my dads love me, but my Dad is certain that he loves me more than anyone else could ever hope to, except for perhaps the very sweet Zhenya, his wife. She must be the kindest stepmom who ever lived, who I’ve known for several years, and who I still feel comfortable referring to on a first-name basis. And my dad always felt he never got to see his sons enough. He wanted me to live with him, but I just couldn’t do it. I was maybe 14, 15; I’m not precisely sure. But when the time came to A, nut up or B, shut up, I picked C: cry and fail and let my dad down. It admittedly cheered my mom up significantly, yet crushed a piece of my dad in the process.
I still remember the circumstances only vaguely. My mom, lamenting that I had changed, putting up a wall to my emotions; she cried openly. My big brother Eric, convincing me not to leave my mom, bull-dozing the wall to little bits and pieces, finally breaking through to me. I remember driving with my dad for hours to a court in an obscure location, and even that we made our own version of Afternoon Delight entitled “Have to Drive All Night”. I remember an unfamiliar lawyer, leading me to a judge in a small room. I remember seeing my mom and stepdad on the way to the room, yet I can’t remember what expression they wore; only that It shook me to the core of my being, startling and shocking me, proving me too frail, too fragile. I remember being alone with a judge, I believe a middle-aged woman, asking me questions of who I really wanted to live with: didn’t I love both my parents, why did I want to live with my dad, etc. I remember faltering, tears beginning to be shed slowly, saltily, reluctantly, as I felt utterly helpless, all alone, with no support to answer the judge. My quiet weeping soon enough turned into sobs that wracked my entire body with burning emosion. I remember being handed a tissue with practiced ease and simple preparation, and believed that the judge had tissues ready for many such an occasion, diminishing the sincerity of the gesture. And I remember my dad informing me, however gently, that I failed, and that his lawyer was good-for-nothing. The judge ended up believing that I was too incompetent to choose who to live with of my own volition, so I ended up staying living with my mom. Perhaps I failed because I didn’t truly believe I wanted to live with my dad. I remember how happy my dad became when I informed him I had decided to live with him, yet that ultimately failed. I had only ever wanted to make my dad happy. But sometimes, there are things you just aren’t meant to do, or aren’t ready for, and fate shoves you down a different path than what you had originally intended.





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