I'm spent. After four days of anger and frustration, I'm bone tired--and nursing the same headache that enhanced my bad mood a few days ago. And I got a call from my father.
It is safe to say that my parents are very different creatures, and my relationship follows the rhythm they set. I joked with them a few years ago that when I was a child, my mother's nickname for me was pishi (kitty) and my father's nickname for me was mooshi (little mouse)--if this didn't doom a child to a lifetime of confusion, I don't know what would.
Seeing as our relationship is so different from with my mother (in addition to the emotional and mental exhaustion), I was polite and tried to keep as light a tone as possible. I know when he is alone, he tends to be nostalgic about a past we may or may not have shared (we lived apart for so many years that he saw himself as an guest in his own home). He was talking about how he dreamt of having us by his side now that he is older and tired, which despite my own tumultuous thoughts, always makes me nostalgic for our time together as well. Of course, then he had to turn philosophical.
"You know, when I was younger, I never even looked before I crossed the street. There was an opportunity on the other side and I couldn't wait to reach it. There was never a challenge I didn't jump at. Now, I'm so cautious and tired, I second guess every decision I make. I keep hearing these voices telling me all of the things that could go wrong. It's almost like..."
I finished his sentence for him, "...you're turning into me?"
He laughed in approval. When I was a child, even when I barely spoke Farsi, that is how he would test to see if I understood what he was saying, by making me finish his sentences. It is an unfortunate habit I still maintain, despite my best efforts. But he was also glad that I had spoken a truth he was not in the mood to utter. My father has always maintained that I am too anxious and full of fear to go out and fulfill my potential. What he has never understood is that much of my anxiety has been based on my family's approval or lack thereof. While I cannot say in honesty that I have followed the path they wanted for me; neither did I follow the path that I wanted for myself. I compromised--and learned that no one is a winner in such compromises.
There was a quiet lull that could have turned awkward, dangerous considering my mood these few days.
"The good news is, maybe as I grow older, I'll become more like you as a young man. I'll start crossing the street without looking. I'll make a decision and ignore all the voices around me."
"Daughter, you just need to accept challenges. You just need to say 'yes'."
Of course. From this perspective, I had spent my entire life saying no to my dreams and opportunities; rejecting possibilities.
I should have just said 'yes'.