In the morning, I turn over to my partner and we talk about all kinds of things. Plans for the week, the month, the year(s). I can remember being young, and seeing my father come home from work. After giving me and my sisters hugs and kisses, he would disappear into the bedroom with my mother, where they would have a similar kind of quiet time. This separation of grown-up time vs. children time feels important to me now. I try to preserve it.
It’s Father’s Day, so I wanted to make my partner some pancakes (whole wheat, with egg whites instead of yolks to keep him healthy). As I mix the batter, I recall that my dad taught me how to make pancakes. Always experimenting, he would add a dash of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg. Some vanilla. A squeeze of lemon juice. My entire life, I have never made pancakes without those ingredients. Even now. Ruth Reichl’s recipe is the base, but there is always a healthy dash of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg. Some vanilla. Some lemon juice. Once, when I was nine, I strayed from the formula and tried to add strawberry banana yogurt. They were terrible. I never strayed from the formula again.
In the aisles at the grocery store, I search for charcoal. My dad always grilled with Kingsford, therefore, I only buy Kingsford. I always look for the blue and white bag with the man (someone’s dad) smiling on the front. My partner is the first man I’ve met who can grill like my dad: chicken moist with the slightly burned tips that I like. Ribs juicy. Hot dogs with the perfect grill marks. Kingsford charcoals going black to white in the grill. My dad also taught me how to make a rub for meats.
Sometimes, I watch my partner with his daughter. She is five — that age where little girls love to pretend their dad is a tall tree to climb or a building to scale. My favorite used to be the “climb knees.” I laugh thinking about it now. My dad would come home after a long day working at the bank full of microaggressions and crazy people and his daughters would physically attack him, yanking on his arms, neck, and legs as a way to show their love. My partner’s daughter does this. And he smiles just like my dad used to and picks her up, even if he’s sore from the gym, or tired. He picks her up and gives her a kiss, just like my dad used to do for me.
I miss watching horror movies with my dad. The summer I was not yet born but about to be, my dad took my mom to go see “Alien” with Sigourney Weaver. She was not pleased. What 8-months-pregnant woman would be happy to see a movie in which a parasitic creature that has been feeding off of a person for months suddenly bursts out of their chest during dinner? In the womb, this translated into the opposite. It’s my favorite movie. I can remember when they re-released it at the theaters some years ago. My dad and I went to go see it together. I cheered when the xenomorph busted out of William Hurt’s stomach. My dad laughed.
There are so many ways in which you can be like a person, or like a person influences you. When I was younger, everyone always told me I looked like my mom (and it’s true), but I would study my face in a mirror for hours, wondering when I would look like my dad. To this day, I’m not sure when I do or not. But there are so many other ways in which we’re probably very similar. Our interests. The music we listen to. Our occasional Mount St. Helens bursts of temper. We like to try and make each other laugh. Being a daddy’s girl is about more than just getting your way (though that happens with considerable frequency as well). I think of that phrase in terms of how alike we are. I wonder what of it will pass on to my own children. Who will be most like me, meaning: who will be most like my dad?