I’ve been asked a few times over the course of my relationship with Eric “why him?” Well, to be honest I don’t know that I have a solid answer. I’d like to think it’s something similar to love at first sight, but I don’t know what to call it. The Psychologist in me can, however, put it into words, two words really; daddy issues.
Yep, that’s right. I, along with scores of other unfortunate girls do not have a good relationship with my father. Eric is everything my father wasn’t and has proved to me slowly but surely that not only am I capable of having a healthy relationship as a child of divorce, but I can know what a marriage looks like without having seen what a working one really looks like.
Today is Father’s Day. I’m so overwhelmed with thoughts that for most of today I’ve been zoning in and out of reality trying not to think too hard about what I’m thinking about. At one point this morning I mused aloud to Eric “it’s Father’s Day.” He replied “yeah, I know. I already sent my dad a text.” I was struck by how easily someone else can say something like that. Some people even get to wake up and see their father in person. Eric didn’t say that condescendingly, he didn’t even really think about why I was mentioning the holiday in the first place.
Within the last few years, I’ve found out some hard things about my dad. This resulted in my not talking to him at all for a solid year. He lives in Florida right now in my grandfather’s old house. He moved down there to care for my grandpa when the divorce was finalized. I was 12 at the time and still living in New York with my mom and my brother.
Once my father was out, we found it difficult to afford living in NY. So we moved to another state to try our luck there. I turned 14 around the time we found our first house in our new state. Until this point I was home schooled with my brother. But my mom asked me if I wanted to try and go to a real high school and I jumped at the opportunity to interact with my peers and make friends. Little did I know I would meet my husband there. I started at my new school in 9th grade. Eric started in 10th. Remember how I said why I chose him was like love at first sight? Yeah, that’s because what we had was nowhere near love at first sight.
Even though we didn’t hit it off right away, I remember so vividly the moment he walked into homeroom for the first time. The teacher introduced him as he sat down on the opposite side of the room and crossed his arms. I whispered something about how cute he was to a friend of mine, and from then on, we both shared a connection that’s lasted to this day.
My father was a hard-working man who did everything he could to provide for his family. My mom worked nights as a Respiratory Therapist and he worked days as a Roofer/Carpenter. I wish I had known at the time that he really wasn’t thinking about his family. I heard over time that my father was a master manipulator. He’d put the car, the house, the bills, etc. all in my mother’s name so his credit and his financial prowess wasn’t tampered with. This was one of many family secrets I only found out about recently.
I remember when he used to come home from a long day at work he would smell like tar, dirt, and sweat. I thought this was the best smell in the world because it was the smell of my dad. Eric smelled the same way when we first started dating from working long hours at a campground. This, along with his antisocial personality and I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude was what initially attracted me to my future husband.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my father. He was street smart and was really funny. Imagine Robin Williams and Al Bundy mixed together in one person. He had an amazing sense of humor and had a degree in theater, so he would put on accents all the time and tell jokes. Luckily, I went into theater too and all of those accents rubbed off on me! He really loved his kids, but it always seemed like he loved who we would become rather than who we were at the time. He brought us to museums and taught us about different cultures. It seemed like he was subconsciously preparing us for the real world. One of my fondest memories is walking the beaches of Long Island with him in search of purple sand and buffalo paint rocks. He would take the sand back to the house, pour it into a bottle and leave it sit in the sun. When he poured out the sand, the glass had turned purple! He would also take special rocks that had red clay inside down to his workshop, mix some water with the clay, and paint our faces with it like real Native American warriors.
My dad was a “dad” for 10 or so years of my life. Those years were really special. But I needed someone to pick me up after he left. Eric did that for me. That’s why I chose him.