Tuesday, April 19, 2011


and just like that, the tears came in gasps.

i got a text from my dad while at work today. 'call me when you can. nothing urgent. just a little earth shaking...' more cryptic than the usual tweet about how he arrived safely home after a long drive, so i took time out from the youth and called him in the hallway.

while attempting to interpret the text, i came to the inevitable conclusion that someone had likely died. we have a huge family. some friends and family members are in conditions less than favorable. and in the twelve steps it took to reach the hall and dial all available numbers, i had steeled myself against some bad news. i was beyond the shock and working through the scheduling of getting time off work to go to a funeral, pricing out (exorbitant) gas costs, and trying to remember if my suit was still clean.

my dad picked up. he was driving. i said hey and what's up, braced for the worst.

he told me, in a few simple words, that he had set up an unbelievable dream for me, and i just had to make a couple phone calls and measurements to start the ball rolling. no reason. no occasion. just a casual granting of a huge selfish wish on a blustery day in april.

i'm getting a new frame.

the shock was huge. i was completely unprepared. and there was no time to absorb (i had to return to the wondering eyes of the youth). i stammered many thanks and some semblance of my awe, and hung up, almost trembling. four months from now, there will be a whole lot of steel underneath me, and i'll be flying along with tears in my eyes and a grin on my face.

the minutes of the afternoon scratched by with unholy tedium, and i finally got out to sprint my way home. i picked up the phone, and called my dad.

i have picked up the phone and called my dad countless times in my life. much of our relationship has happened on the phone, and there were years when i had it worked out that, because the guy hates talking on the phone, i had to prepare a set of questions, or at least one question, that could be used as the segue to any real conversation. the answer would be forthcoming, we would move on to other subjects, and we were back in touch. thank you, alexander bell.

some of the conversations i've had with my dad were less than pleasant. oftentimes, i needed help figuring out the hard questions in life. my heart was broken. my heart wasn't broken yet, but it was about to be and i couldn't stand the thought of the impending emotional upheaval. i didn't know what i wanted to do with my life. at what temperature is chicken roasted? et cetera. important questions and conversations, usually staging me as pupil, him as philosopher, and always much to learn. there was not so much scolding all of the time, but often the general feeling that there was much to learn and a long way to go, and i could do it, but i was not there yet. i don't like being reminded of this. actually, it's been easier as the years go by, and i'm without ego and with much hunger for learning. but i'm still not there yet.

it never feels like anyone is proud of me. it rarely feels like i've done anything above and beyond, like i'm inspiring or special or good, in that novel kind of way. no one ever tells me i'm amazing, that i'm brilliant. i'm not told about the good job i do, how much my work truly means to anyone, or that all that stuff that i do all day every day, is noticed and respected and admired. never.

being a typical north americanized filipino oldest son, i have confidence issues based in external measures, often reflected and driven by performance. straight A's. memorized shakespeare. pretty girlfriends. make good flan. one thing i've always lived up to and under is my father. the man is amazing, has made a legendary life for himself, and it was impossible not to revere him as we grew up. we were constantly reminded by the stream of admirers in his work life, family life, and everything in between: your father is an amazing man. that's a lot to live up to. especially when i can't dance, sing, or play the guitar. and i was kinda lying about making good flan... so when my dad told me today that he is truly proud of me, when he told me, in explanation of the gift that it was simply because he believes in me, the walls came down.

i told him to stop, before i started crying on the phone. typical me reaction: way overemotional and ridiculous. but i couldn't believe it. it was too much. it was too great. it was far beyond steel bike frames from montana. it was about a father believing in his son, unabashedly, and telling him so through actions that begot words that were true all this time. after i hung up the phone, i sank to the dirty kitchen floor, and sobbed. it was relief. it was surrendering all that defense that i had built up, all those reasons i had to go harder and bigger and make sure that i was being as great as possible, in spite of everyone and everything. i have a long way to go, and much to learn. and where i am right now, right here, it's pretty great. my dad believes in me.

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