My Dad: My Best Friend Growing Up and Always My First Call

Jun 16, 2024 | Main Blog | 0 comments

I’ve been a light sleeper my whole life. So has my dad. In fact, he is the only other light sleeper I know. When I was younger he taught me how to control my breathing to help me fall asleep and calm down. Inhale for four, hold for four, exhale for four, and hold again for four.

When I was nine years old, my dad and I went on a bike ride like we always did in the summer. But on one particular day, when turning from asphalt onto gravel, I wiped out. I had no choice but to bike home despite my tattered up knee. I cried the whole way while he yelled at me that I was going to crash again due to a lack of visibility if I kept crying. I hated him for days, and I hated bikes for years.

The summer before my freshman year of college my dad told me I wasn’t allowed to move into my dorm unless I could drive a stick shift. He had an irrational fear that I was going to end up stranded in a field with a stick shift vehicle as my only opportunity for escape. Obviously, I couldn’t argue with this seamless logic. Also, I didn’t have a choice – I was going to learn whether I liked it or not. Per usual, I procrastinated and assumed he would forget about this little deal. He did not. In the final three days before I flew across the country, in the middle of August in California, I learned to drive a stick shift. We practiced for three days in a row behind a grocery store in an underused parking lot. We sweated, screamed, fought, and cried, but I finally got the hang of it.

As a little girl, my dad was my whole world. After sleepaway camp, it was the top of his head that I looked for in a crowd and whose arms I ran into. At the end of a day of school, I was excited because I knew he would be waiting for me in our green Prius with a cut-up Honeycrisp apple. Growing up he truly was my best friend, and I’ve always wanted him to be proud of me.

Even now, I remember the glass Starbucks mug he used every single morning for his black coffee. I close my eyes, and I can hear his laugh and picture that old yellow and black striped polo that a bee once stung him in. I know the creak in the floor on the way to his old office. I’ve memorized exactly what a hug from him will feel like and know the smell of his deodorant that will accompany it. I know that he used to wear the same jacket every single morning to take care of our dogs and drive my brother and I to school. And I remember how exciting life felt when it was just the two of us taking on the day.

I only see my dad a couple of months out of the year now when I’m home from college. And postgrad, I know this time will only decrease. My dad refers to Father’s Day as a “Hallmark holiday” and likes to go on tangents about corporations and consumerism, but I know this day means a lot to him, too. This year he is celebrating his twenty-first year of being a father.

My dad and I have both grown and changed in the past 21 years and sometimes we still have difficulty navigating our new dynamic. But throughout my entire life, my dad has always been my first call.

When I’m awake late at night, unable to sleep, I find comfort in the thought that he too is probably tossing and turning. I still have a scar on my knee from when I fell off my bike on that trail. I made one of my first friends in college because we bonded over both our dads making us learn to drive stick shifts. When I moved into college, he gave me the jacket he wore every morning after noticing that I stole it from his office all the time. I buy the same incense he lights in our house, I love the smell of Home Depot, and sometimes I have terrible road rage.

I’m still trying to navigate what it means to grow up. I still want my dad to be proud of me. I miss the relationship we had when I was younger even if I also love how it’s changed. But for now, all I can do is try and soak it all in. Happy Father’s Day, Dad, I love you.

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Hannah Sobczyn

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