Based on a series of true events.
For the longest time, I had a complicated relationship with my father. At age seven, while my entire class struggled with fractions, I was working with decimals. I sat in the same pale orange cushioned chair for hours scratching away at the wooden desk trying to defy my father’s logic. I simply had no use for decimals as yet. But, I had to do as I was told. I was my father’s first-born child, his experiment at creating his own perfection, and I could not possibly stray.
Decimals and fractions have now become differentiation and integration. As I learnt how to differentiate, I compartmentalized every aspect of my life. My father and I were stuck in two boxes, unable to agree on anything. I was variable and he was constant. I was everything he had tried to push me away from. I was ideas and he was logic. There was no in-between.
Our frustrations always got the better of us. At age twelve, I received a sharp rebuke for not knowing how to factorize. At age thirteen, the lock on my door turned every day just to close him out. He refused to let me write and I refused to let him be. We turned into a routine. Perfect as far as the world could see but broken at every other angle.
Each angle tells another story. As you turn from 0 degrees to 15 degrees, you reach a longitude. We reached a new understanding. We would have one conversation a week. Much of the time, these conversations were mundane. Stories of my father’s college days, stories of my childhood, and stories of the present. Nonetheless, conversations established a new territory. I saw a side of my father I had never seen. A man who was so financially unstable in his post-college days that he survived on bananas and yogurt. A man who broke up with three different girlfriends because he relied on his mother’s approval to flourish. A man who was tainted with imperfections, the way I was.
As you turn from 15 degrees to 30 degrees, you reach a new beginning. We reached ours on a ski trip in the middle of nowhere in Austria. At the top of the mountain, we sat in a dimly lit restaurant filled with mumbles of German and French. Our language was nowhere near as busy as the others. We stared at each other. At that moment, I realized his eyes were mine. The same determination, the same stubbornness. I was him, and he was me. I couldn’t run from him my entire life. I was a part of him and I had to accept it. As you turn from 30 degrees to 45 degrees, there’s another development. All ours took was his hand sliding into mine and three words. “I’m always there”. Sometimes, just knowing that can be everything.
As you turn from 45 degrees to 60 degrees, it’s a whole new ball game. Our weekly conversations no longer needed scheduling. It was no longer hard to keep conversation flowing or try to keep things to myself. As you turn from 60 degrees to 75 degrees, you don’t think there’s much you can gain. There is. He taught me how to drive, which was the push I needed towards gaining my own independence. He wanted to treat me as an adult and not a child. I was finally my own self. As you turn from 75 degrees to 90 degrees, you reach a perpendicular. Ours was a bridge in the middle of Paris. At 90 degrees, you can see the Seine below you. The crystal blue water reflects two halves of a whole. My dad taking the initiative to take me to Paris on a father-daughter trip was all it took. He told me he thought we were friends now; I told him I agreed.