I have these memories of you, Dad. They're fuzzy and gold-tinted, the rays of the sun much sharper than reality, the background indistinct and unimportant. Somehow I recollect things through other people's eyes, so when I remember you throwing my high up into the air as a toddler, it's from the side, not my own eyes. When I remember how you carried me to bed every night, when you would tease me by holding my body high over the mattress, not dropping me until I was positively screaming with anticipation, I remember it as though there was a secret camera across from us, recording the scene to be stored in my memory. I do have some visions from my own point of view, most of them being my preschool days. You would drop me off at the playground and I would sprint to the fence, waiting however long until I saw the old green Subaru drive off. And every time you would twist around in the drivers seat just to wave goodbye.
So why, Dad, don't you bother to say goodbye now? Why do you spend months half way around the world, only sending a half-hearted "Hi, Fi!" every week or so? Is it that hard to connect with your daughter, now that she's grown up? You and Mom never treated me like the stereotypical "girl", did you? Neither of you made me wear pink tutus or play with Barbie dolls. You never called me "princess" or "sweetheart" or referred to me as "my little girl". You had that other name for me, the one that's just a sound you made up one day, and chose as my pet name. You still call me that. You still use your baby voice around me, you still keep things close that I can now understand. My question is, why are you still thinking of me as a baby when were both completely different from when I actually was one?
You were my hero, dad. You were the big strong man who I would hide behind when the monsters came, who gave me my own personality and let me be myself. When I picture who you were I see the young father with floppy brown hair pulling a soil-caked carrot out of the ground; he's so proud of himself, his daughter, for making something grow. When I picture you now, I see an old man sitting alone in an empty apartment, watching mindless TV because apparently you like that now.