When I slammed the heavy solid teak and wrought iron front door behind me I could hear the panes of glass shaking from within their frames and the brass door knocker rattling on its hinges – like always. Yes, it was all too familiar, my father and I argued about my future almost every day, each of us hurling damning and venomous words at the other, hoping to land the perfect insult. He always won; he reasoned better than me, he was an attorney after all. The front door meant freedom from his unrelenting diatribe and I always turned in that direction; marching my determined feet down the corridor, gasping for fresh air, and distance from my abuser.
The crashing sound of doors colliding together only meant that particular argument was over, and not that my father conceded anything, he didn’t, his rules had hardened like concrete and nothing was going to break them loose. It usually took three hours more or less to calm my rage and suppress my feelings before limping back to my father’s house where we would sit together sharing the evening meal, like nothing ever happened.
My immaturity, my imagination, or my passion; one or all of them pulled me into the center ring to battle my father day after day. I wanted him to listen, to understand the fierce light in my eyes that lit a path different than his, but his rigid rules I couldn’t seem to live by and he couldn’t seem to loosen, continued to drive us further apart. Finally, the day had come when freedom from him had been offered and it was on the other side of that door – and this time, I was not coming back.
I resisted looking in the rear-view mirror; no to fear and no to misgivings, I only allowed myself to focus on Paris and the glorious life that waited for me there.
What went wrong?
Turned out my father had indelibly imprinted my mind. What? Right, he was the one person who had the deepest influence on me from birth through my formative years and therefore had left the deepest imprint. It didn’t matter how many miles separated us, his words, good and bad, impacted my entire decision making. The moment the door slammed shut I was physically alone, yes, but his words would ring like a timed alarm through the halls of my mind every darn day I fought to survive on the streets of Paris. I thought I was free of him, but I wasn’t – not really.
Turning twenty years old meant two long years had passed since a naive teenager named Jose Miguel arrived in Paris with dreams as big as an ocean. Not to be. Who was I to think I could achieve my dreams? Homelessness brought me to my knees and I was pleading to go home, and oh yes, now all I wanted was my father. Enter Savannah, my teacher, and the way to do just that – go home to my father.
Here’s the good news. It’s hard to un-imprint, but not impossible! And that is what my blog UNDOING JOEY is all about.
Te quiero. Joey