Monday, May 18, 2009

Sounds crazy, no?

My father is a good, good man.

Today he rings my cell phone and says, "I just wanted you to know that as September approaches, this is the song tha tI've been singing 14 or 15 times a day." There is then a long pause.

I know exactly what is coming.

This kind of call is fairly standard for my father. He listens to the showtunes internet radio station or his own playlist (he's very technically saavy) and when a song comes up that reminds him of one of us, he picks up the phone and lets us listen for a little while. It's sweet and I always appreciate the gesture. It's also fairly ridiculous and I think that he must do it because he likes to be mocked, in some sick sort of way.

So, in this long pause, I tease him for not actually having the song cued up as wait for the inevitable.
Tevye: Is he in bad trouble,that hero of yours?
Hodel: Yes. But he did nothing wrong. He cares nothing for himself. Everything he does is for other people.
Tevye: Yes, but if he did nothing wrong, he wouldn't be in trouble.
Hodel: Papa, how can you say that? What wrongs did Joseph do? And Abraham, and Moses? And they had troubles.
Tevye: Yes. Well... But why won't you tell me where he is now, this Joseph of yours?
Hodel: It is far, Papa. Terribly far. He is in a settlement in Siberia.
Tevye: Siberia? And he asks you to leave your father and mother and join him in that frozen wasteland and marry him there?
Hodel: No, Papa. He did not ask me to go. I want to go. I don't want him to be alone. I want to help him in his work.
Tevye: Hodel...
Hodel: Papa...
(singing)How can I hope to make you understand why I do what I do?
Why I must travel to a distant land, far from the home I love.
Once I was happily content to be as I was,where I was.
Close to the people who are close to me, here in the home I love.
Who could see that a man would come who would change the shape of my dreams?
Helpless now I stand with him,
watching older dreams grow dim.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I sang the part of Hodel in the spring musical. My parents bought 10 seats for each production night and invited all of their friends. My whole family had grown up singing along to Fiddler on the Roof in my mom's kitchen and in our van that had, of all things, a tape deck. (Also, the license plate KID VAN.) So, this was dream come true. To play the part of the singing daughter. I was a star! And "Far From the Home I Love" was my anthem. When I was in college, my friend Emily (who had been involved in the high school production) once badgered me to sing along with her cast recording (now on CD) in her dorm room for our friends because she was so proud of me.

So, when I was 21 years old and about to be married, my father increased the frequency with which he called and played the song into the tape of my answering machine. When he and I went for our dancing lessons so that we wouldn't embarass ourselves for the first dance, he brought several CDs with him, one of which was Fiddler. We listened to a few to give the instructor a sense of which would be the best rhythms of the bunch but when she fired up my anthem, Dad was a big wuss and started crying immediately. The instructor wouldn't even entertain another option. So, we danced to it at my wedding.

It is a sad song about a woman leaving behind the future she always thought she would have because she loves a man enough to follow him anywhere.

I suppose that when you place this in the context of my first marriage, it is particularly appropriate. Except, love wasn't enough once I got to Siberia. Also, to carry the metaphor a little further, the reason that my ex-husband gave for his arrest was not quite accurate.

So, today, my dad calls and in the awkward before the music starts, I think about just how much I love my dad.

But we are different people now, he and I. I do not have to leave him behind this time. In marrying Jacob, I get to retain my values and my dreams for community and social justice. I get to continue in the family business, so to speak.

I made fun of my dad just a little bit and asked whether or not it bothered him that he was making exactly the same phone call that he used to make 10 years ago. He protested a little and teased me, saying that if I didn't want him to be as excited about this wedding as he was about the last one, he didn't have to be.

Which makes me think. I worry a lot about this second marriage: that there is something wrong with me and I'm a bad chooser or that I'll hurt Jacob's feelings because I can't give him the innocence that I gave Dennis. Since my dad is a good man, he probably knows this about me.

Maybe the reason that the song wasn't already playing when he called was that he cued it up just for me. Maybe he wanted to bolster me up a little, jsut in case I needed it. Maybe he was re-reading my blog and read one of the 8 billion mentions I have made about being scared. Maybe he was just sitting back from his computer and daydreaming about dancing with me again. Even if he wasn't, I'm sure that sometimes he does.

And that is a beautiful gift.

Maybe it's time for a new anthem. This marriage is less about having found the man that I will follow and much more about having found a partner who will help me accomplish what I'm already working on because he wants the same things.

But if Dad wants to keep this anthem, that's fine with me, too.


Rachel said...

Let's just be clear:

GWAR would make a terrible anthem.

Beyond that, anything will be great because you all (we, too!) will make it great.

Anonymous said...

This post is too sweet. Your dad rules.