And then sometimes your dad calls while you’re sitting and peeing, and you look at the international number, the screen does not flash the word “Dad”‘ that’s not how the two of you are, or how he is, even, tied to one number. But he had written you on Facebook, and you had sent your number, and then not thought of it, not waited for it, and then you are peeing and you see the number beginning +33…and you know it is him and you consider for a second not answering; hearing the message first. But you ask the universe, and the universe says yes, and you answer and it is him.
His voice is forever young sounding. Breathy. Melodic. Lightly lined with accent.
And you’re instantly happy to be speaking to him. You’re not sure how long it’s been.
He says he can’t hear you well. The connection is not good. You hear voices like a cafe in the background.
He is not in Mexico. He is in France. That’s good. He likes being there, though you believe that Mexico always pulls him back, no matter what he says, that it is a land he must time and again return to.
It’s not that your whole history falls away. It’s not that. Nor that you think that you two will never be angry at each other again. No, not that either. It’s that you’re having a baby. And he is your father. He asks the birth plan and the due date and about B., one question after another. He is happy with your answers. “Good,” he says. “That’s good.” And he says, “B. must be the happiest man in the world,” and it is such a fatherly thing to say. So it’s not the way it’s been before, when you thought with each phone call and letter that all would be healed and you two would stroll city streets in bilingual contentment. You know more now; how the past does not fall away as easily as shed skin.
But when you get off the phone everything matters less; the frustration with in-laws, the family dramas, the worries and people who don’t talk, and people who do, the resentments you’ve been lingering over, your temper, your house, your clenching, aching muscles. It’s all still there, nothing is magically fixed, it just for a second takes its proper place in a puzzle that spans generations. The perpetual imperfections of family. And how heartbreakingly we try to love each other.
He says he will call again. You believe him. It’s snowing.