You are just like your Father. A phrase I heard most of my life and I knew at a young age, it wasn't meant as a compliment. A Godly man towards the end of his life - not so much in the beginning. He was a single young man who happened to have 2 little girls. I loved the rare occasion we spent the night at his place - which changed quite often depending on the girl he was dating or the friends he was living with. Always a party - and I love me a party.
Even as a young girl, I was immediately attracted to the scene. Opening the door to the apartment was like entering the set of a naughty sitcom - rated M for Mature. The colorful characters, the illegal smells, the explicit language, the questionable activities - these were my people; I had arrived. Friends were smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and then beer and then Jack, playing Spades, cussing and laughing and dancing, their voices getting louder and louder with each trump card played. The best part - everyone treated Sister and me like we were one of the gang - no kids table for us. Sister and I drank our sodas, flipped through Playboy magazines, listened in on their conversations and held hands a lot. I wasn't afraid of the noise or worried about the stream of people coming and going or concerned about where we were going to sleep. I bet Sister was. I loved sitting on my Dad's lap, helping him sort his cards and decide how many books he was going to win. I loved the greasy fried chicken he served us, piping hot, burning my tongue. I loved the women who braided my hair and taught me how to do The Bump (it's a dance). I loved that everyone seemed to be having a great time together. I sure was. I never seemed to fit in the quiet, organized world. But I always felt at home in that naughty sitcom scene with my Dad and his crew.
I was told from a very young age - you are just like your Mother - and when he said those words, I knew it was not meant as a compliment. I loved my Dad very much and I knew he loved me. I was his #1 daughter. First born.
As kids of divorce, when Mom told us we were staying overnight at Dad's place, alarm bells rang in my head. Was he coming this time? He didn't have a very good track record of actually showing up. Where would he take us? Bowling, to his place, to her place, to watch him play softball, play cards? What would we do and with whom would we do it with? Panic! I wasn't afraid that something bad would happen, I just didn't like the uncertainty of time spent together. And with my Dad, there was never a plan - it was always fly by the seat of your pants and I'm not a fly by the seat kind of girl. Anxious. Worried. Sensitive.
On these overnights - I don't think we ever made it an entire weekend - I was on my best behavior. I told story after story of all the good things I was doing in school, with friends, in sports. Show and Tell was the name of the game. He would listen sometimes, but I usually had a better audience with the her in his life - which there were many, all very kind, all very young. But he was young. A young black man in the 70's living in a college town far from home.
On these overnights, I kept Lovely close. She didn't know it, but in those situations she was my security blanket. I was uncomfortable around my Dad and his people - she seemed perfectly as ease. The noise, the smells, the scene. The sound of his voice always scared me. His booming laughter startled me. I tried to loosen up on those overnights, follow their lead, pretend to be like them - laugh when they laughed, go with the flow. But inside I was fighting the urge to grab Lovely by the hand and go home together.
Lori Ann Dinkins
One blog at a time, I write the truth about my life as it is, as I hope it will be, as I wish it would have been. Business insights and personal triumphs. Thank you for joining me.