What it’s like to be my father’s daughter

Published Mar 11 2013

I have a lot of do — I’m moving at a snail’s pace behind a deadline but eff it. We’re going to get personal up in this.

First, the good news: I got a call today saying that I was accepted to lease a cheap apartment in Brooklyn. I beat out another qualified candidate solely with my credit score, which swelled my pride beyond belief, especially after reading Ramit’s book. I move in several weeks, and already I’m starting to think about how I can cheaply curate every essential item that will live in it. I was positively ecstatic.

Next, the not-so-great part: Over dinner I had a discussion with my parents about my upcoming new life (and I guess, about life in general), and it wasn’t a fun one. Long story short, my dad believed that I wasn’t being careful enough in making sure the apartment was appropriate (checking to see if the water runs, if the heater works, etc.), and that I needed to be more vigilant about the choices I make because, in a nutshell, most people don’t have my best interests in mind. It was a buzzkill to say the least.

I always had a shadow of an idea about why my dad thinks the way he does — he was a young kid in Japan during its war-torn 40s, he only was able to attend school sporadically growing up, and he wasn’t always 100% sure that he would have something to eat the next day.

Until now I got annoyed whenever this mindset surfaced in what he said — sure, he’s just trying to look out for me, but why can’t he see that we don’t live in that kind of world anymore? Why isn’t it easy for him to believe that people could be good, and that it’s simply exhausting to be a skeptic all the time, not just for him, but for everyone else he talks to? I suppose an obvious answer to all of this is: This is just the way he grew up, and it’s not something that he can help. But that didn’t make me feel better about it.

Today though, after discussing this with a friend who experienced similar tribulations with his mother, I felt differently. More than wondering why my dad viewed the world the way he did, I thought about why I am able to view the world the way I do. I know that I live a positively fortunate life. I grew up in an awesome city, I went to a pretty good high school and college, I studied what I wanted, and throughout I never went hungry, nor did I have to worry about having a roof over my head or clothes to wear (except when I didn’t do laundry, which is obviously my bad). Not everyone could say the same and I know that.

Periodically I have “Holy shit I am so lucky to live my life and I am so thankful for what I have” episodes, but today I realized that I’m incredibly fortunate that I can even afford to think the way I do. The blessed (hate using that word; too lazy to think of a different one) circumstances of my upbringing — of which my dad obviously played no small role — allow me to see that the world can be good, a privilege that maybe he didn’t have growing up, but was still able to pass down to someone like me.

Shortly after the dinner discussion, my dad, in his usual way that I’m sure is not unique to just my dad, came by and “apologized.” Well no, I told him I was upset and told him to apologize to me, which he did. Feeling amiable, I accepted his apology, and that was the end of the conversation. But probably what I should have done was also thank him (I was still a little pissed at the time, so maybe later. What! I’m human too).

So I’ll just say it here, for now: Thanks, dad, for all that. I really do appreciate it. Keep turning on those faucets and touching the radiators. I think I get it now.