I never talk about it with anyone, about my dad. About how I wonder where he is, if he wonders how I am, what I look like, what I’m doing with my life? These are the questions I’ll carry around with me for the rest of my life. About how he called me the day of my fifteenth birthday and asked me plain as day how life was going? Like he was just some distant relative calling to be polite and exchange niceties. I was young and angry, so when he said he’d call me again soon I shrugged it off. I didn’t care, I didn’t ask for his number. If I had known then that I’d never speak to him again, would it have made a difference?
I don’t ever talk about my dad except to say, “It’s just me and my mom”. I learned not to say “I don’t have a dad” because then I would hear the inevitable “but everyone has a dad!”, so it’s easier to not even mention him at all. I hear it sometimes, the way they say “my parents” and we say “my mom”. The way they look into the audience and give a hopeful glance for their parents, the way we hide in the wings and wait for no one. Every little girl dreams of her fairytale wedding, with her daddy walking her down the aisle and dancing to some oldies song while he sheds a tear at the thought of his little girl growing up. If I am angry at the world it is because I know one day I will have to be strong enough to walk myself down the aisle, when I am barely strong enough to read a book or watch a show about a young girl who just wants her father to be there for her without sobbing into my throw pillows and bottling it up like those tears were worth millions. If he can’t even send me a birthday card with a five dollar bill, there’s no place for him in my heart. Why nurse an empty pedestal when I can open a whole exhibit to other kinds of love in my life? I used to look for love and acceptance in a string of boys, now I look to myself that I am worthy of being loved even if he can’t love me.
When I was fourteen I wanted so badly to change my last name, to erase every last trace of him from my life. My mother steadfastly refused thanks to some antiquated belief that not carrying my father’s name was shameful to her. She said she fought so hard to earn me my father’s name, and that her name was hers alone. I took a page from her book and over the years, it’s become my name and just my name. I’m not Selena, daughter of blank. I’m Selena blank. It’s my name, it’s my identity. My favorite meaning of my last name translates to lovely. I fell in love with that, my full name simplifying to ‘lovely moon’. If woman came from the rib of man, I came from the rib of the moon. 🌙