My dad was born in Santiago on Chilean Independence Day. His parents would tell him the parade was in honour of his birthday, a simple lie which solidified his feelings of high self-worth (and self-importance) at an early age. Winning the local Top Forty-Under-Forty contest, achieving longest standing CEO as a non-owner status, these accolades came easy, almost naturally. Within the family he is put on the highest pedestal which casts a long shadow for me and, as I’d later learn, a couple of others. I think the fact that I’m a woman also has something to do with my lesser status in the family. My dad doesn’t notice this special treatment though, he’s convinced he’s ordinary. I was oblivious to it too until recently. My mom says that at funerals or parties there’s always a crowd hovering in line to speak to my dad. Strange, since I find him incompetent at most things.
Like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, my dad is a physicist with questionable social skills. Of course my dad doesn’t find The Big Bang Theory funny, being so similar to the character who is the bud of all the show’s jokes. My dad’s lack of social empathy, and need for control, put a strain on his and my mom’s relationship, on ours too. His success in business ensured people generally would over look his social ineptitude, a dichotomy which was very hard for me to reconcile when I was younger, especially since I am an only child and experienced this alone. It wasn’t until I publicly put some distance between us that my mom and some uncles came forward with their support. They didn’t want to say anything negative before but figured since I had figured it out on my own it was safe to speak.
After a year of basically no communication with my dad I can approach our relationship with less attachment, and as a consequence more clarity. I can take him for who he is and separate my identity from his, especially with those who still insist on introducing me by my connection to him; “ this is Jane, Jane is Dan’s daughter, Dan’s interests include…” Hahaha. Sometimes my dad will even laugh with me.
This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.
Annie was a real pre-teen bitch. Queen of the mean girls. We were nine and she was our Empress. I remember meeting Annie on our first day of grade two. In actuality we had met at age four in the playground between our mom’s two co-ops but grade two was the first time I actually remember meeting her. She was sitting on the floor at the front of the classroom with her boyfriend’s legs straddled around her. I was in immediate awe. How this girl was mature and confident enough to have a boyfriend in grade two astonished me. We became fast friends and by the time grade three rolled around we had formed a girl gang, although we didn’t really consider ourselves that. It was the teachers who called us “Les Cinq Filles”(the five girls) they were concerned about our impact on the other students, accusing us of being exclusionary. We shrugged it off and kept quiet during our regular Principle’s office stare-downs.
Les Cinq Filles may have looked like a “group” from the outside but inside there was a well discerned hierarchy. Annie at the top, obviously, Jules and Kelly next tier, then me and Lea holding up the pyramid. We would call dibs on who got to sit next to Annie at lunch, if me or Lea asked and then Jules did, our earlier bids were forgotten. Annie could and would get us to do anything, often times to our own humiliation. I was the minute keeper (as I was the best in school) and kept the book of tallies on our scores for these “friendly” activities. I remember one time I chickened out on a dare and Annie told a boy at lunch that I liked him, which was especially tragic because I actually did like that particular boy but hadn’t told anyone. Keep your cards close to your chest is some thing I must have learned at a young age.
As the grades moved up we stayed friends and Annie somehow blocked out our grade three days from her consciousness (to mine, Lea, Kelly and Jules’ disbelief). It turns out I hadn’t moved past it but had buried it deep. A few months ago Annie and I were having a chat in her living room while her daughter Cindy played on the floor. I had just moved back from New York and I guess something had changed in me. Like I learned how to not take any bullshit in New York and had brought that skill home. Annie was dissecting my latest relationship and criticizing all my major life choices when suddenly it went like “nope” in my head. I told her “I respect your opinion but I’ve had enough of it for one day” and walked out. Cindy said “bye” whilst Annie stayed silent. We haven’t spent time together since but sometimes I’ll text her just to keep things light. We have after-all known each-other a long time.
This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.
Last night I had a dream about Han. I’ve been dreaming more and more about past almost-lovers. The one who was married. The one who my best friend was in love with. But this one I couldn’t figure out why we wouldn’t make it, the answer was revealed to me a few years later, another wife, this time in Cuba. –Oh okay so you strung me along being flirtatious and charming and texting and taking me out for coffees that could sometimes last 8 hours into the night because well we had undeniable chemistry…. I got so angry when he finally told me that I stormed out and tripped on the side walk. It wasn’t even snowing. A full blown hot mess trip.
In his text the next morning he wrote that he never meant to deceive me. I suppose he remembered all those “Im not the marrying kind” conversations differently. It was at it’s core a conclusion though. A conclusion to an almost romance weaving in and out of coffee at our same cafe. We had all the same favourite places. That’s how we met, first through a common acquaintance and then I just kept running into him. It turned out we were neighbours and our days were the same. We were both doing nothing but occasionally something. Once I ran into him at the copyers we has reading? writing? a page for his father and got very nervous when asked him questions. I didn’t press. Han never told me how he financed his lifestyle and I didn’t’ much care. He joked about starting a business exporting women’s underwear with a friend, it turns out that may have been true? Or he made it seem more true that latest time we saw each other. Han was sort of mysterious like that. I met his parents once. Again running into them at our same cafe. His mother was decadent, she reminded me of my great grandmother. Or maybe what my great grandmother would have been if they didn’t leave Germany.
I never kept contact with Han outside of Turkey. His phone number sunk with the rest of my Turkish contacts in a pool of coffee one morning in Hamburg, Germany. I threw my red samsung flip phone in the trash without even a second look. I guess he still percolates my unconscious though, I bump into him on occasion in my winter dreams.