Saturday, February 13, 2010

Look (16/90)

“It’s getting late, how much longer can you hide.”-  The Great Debaters

My Dad is  having trouble looking at me today.

I’ve got in a new nose ring that I just bought yesterday. It’s much bigger and more noticeable than the tiny stud I’ve kept in for a while now.

“Hey,” I said as I passed him on my way into the laundry room.

“Hey,” he said as he glanced up.

I walked back in to where he sat and watched as his eyes caught the ring in my nose and his brow furrowed a bit. I left to get coffee for the both of us, and when I returned I sat his on the TV tray sitting in front of him.

“Does it have sugar in it,” he asked after a sip, looking into the kitchen where I stood.

“Mine does,” I said. “Do you want some sugar?”

Before he could answer I grabbed a handful of Equal packets and a spoon and walked them over to him. I watched him looking again at my nose, as if he needed to be sure of what he was seeing.As I got closer his eyes shifted decidedly from my face to the packet and spoon in my outstretched hand.

It’s as though eye contact would have been just a bit too much.


I was coming down the escalator in the Indianapolis airport and he was waiting at the bottom near the baggage carousels. When I saw him I got nervous, and was glad that I could hide under the hat I’d decided to throw on at the last minute.

When I reached the bottom I hugged him and we began to chat about my trip.After our conversation had died down, and we were still waiting on my bag I got the courage to hint at my newness.

“I need to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home,” I said.

“For what,” he asked.

“I need to get some things for my hair,” I answered.

Why can’t that wait, he asked me.

Because I just cut all my hair off and I need to get new headbands and products tonight, I said agitated.

“Why would you do that,” he asked, with that same furrowed brow.

I should have been prepared for that response. It was the reason I’d worn the hat, the reason I was nervous on the flight home.

“Because I wanted to,” I said.    

“Who are you trying to be like,” he asked. “Is Shayna’s hair like that?”

Yeah, but that’s not why, I said.

“I’ve been growing my hair out for eight months, what did you think I was going to do,” I asked him agitatedly.

The next day the hat came off, as I began adjusting to this outward expression of an inward transformation. I expected to hear what people thought, and I did. All day. Then, I went home and gave him the chance to see, and he was silent. For two weeks he could not look.

“What did Dad say,” my sister asked me over the phone.

“He hasn’t said anything,” I told her.  “He can’t even look at me.”

She burst into laughter. And I joined her.

I imagine that he’s not looking because he can’t. And that’s understandable. It must be hard to watch as I become so different. And these little things like the piercings, the hair, are just symbols of a much larger transformation.

Somewhere along the way I assumed the role of protector of both of my parents. And I tried to be the easy child, the one that you wouldn’t have to worry about. For this reason, there are things I will not say, or that I will not let you hear me say. There are things that I will keep doing, so it appears that I am who you want me to be.

But, the truth is that you are not mine to protect. And you are strong enough to handle my truth, and I've made that easy to see.

If you choose to look.


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