“It’s not my fault. This is your dream. I was just stupid enough to move towards it.”
“University is not a dream, it’s a door opener. You are stupid if you turn away from it.”
I looked at my father. One thing for me to call myself stupid. But shots fired for him to agree and blame me. It was the longest conversation we’d ever had.
His back was to me, so I slammed the door, hoping the bang rang like a shot, to rattle his desperation for quiet.
The first thing I picked up in my bedroom was my suitcase. I moved around the room stuffing things I could not see into the bag. What did I need? What did I need?
I’d been pushing myself into ballet tights that didn’t fit, reading books he forced on me, getting out of bed at 6 am to sit in a cold arena on a hockey bench for fifteen years for one of his discerning head nods. I was worse than a dog waiting for a daily treat that never came most days but for which I obediently sat, wagging my tail and drooling in anticipation.
The one good thing about university was how I separated from him. It took three months to see none of what he made me be, was me. The rancorous emails before Christmas. The “Try harder” criticisms. This was the not-swimming, drowning moment I’d been moving towards.
Jeans I hadn’t worn in three years ended up in the bag, as did underwear I kept at the back of a drawer. I grabbed the toothbrush I unpacked last night. Twelve hours. We made it twelve hours in the same house. The only sounds I heard in response to me leaving were all the reasons I was right and why he was a dickhead.
I have a suitcase, I have a car. I have a girlfriend who loves me even though it’s only been a few weeks.
“I saw you across this crowded room,” she said. We tried every sex toy ever made, she happened to keep one of each in her apartment, until I was crushed under her weight and ready to faint but no longer cared if I disappeared. Then she fed me eggs and I grew towards her. I would arrive to her now, on Christmas, with my packed suitcase. I can do this. A girl can leave.
Anger’s charm kept me on that one plane perspective until I was standing outside in the dark, surrounded by snow, car keys in my hand, wondering if I had any gas or money to pay for it.