My mom always says I’m picky, I’m careful who I show my cards to. It’s not that I’ve ever been especially mistreated, or walked all over, I just value my vulnerabilities a little bit differently. I’ve learned to find solitude in blues and handle them accordingly. But I’ve also grown to love the comfort of a remedied heart when mine still bleeds. I’ve learned that I like to dance alone. But on the other hand, coffee always tastes better when you have someone to share it with.
I’ve seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation more times than I care to admit, and I owe that to the recording on my family’s television from 2009 (give or take). It’s my dad’s favorite movie. Whether snow is falling or Alaska is melting, he’s watching it. He could probably go shot for shot reciting the entire dialogue of the dinner scene, switching characters between Aunt Bethany and Cousin Eddie to make sure he nails “the blessing”. I don’t especially like the movie considering it replays in my head every night of December, but I watch it nonetheless, and I promise to laugh every time he tells me I’ll shoot my eye out.
Ever since I was born, I’ve been the spitting image of my father. We have the same humor, the same tan skin and dark brown eyes. According to my mom we have matching nail beds, and the same temper. He never backs down without a fight, which I guess is why he’s always called me a spitfire. We share the same values, the same traits, we look for happiness in the same memories. Sometimes, on a good month, we share an Amazon account.
My dad has always been my best friend. When I was a little girl, and fully the main character of my parents’ movie, I used to wait all day for him to get home from work. Tired as a dog, he knew once he walked through that front door he needed to chase me all around the house. “Come on Daddy let’s run!”. Now, in our little starter home, there was not much running to be had, but I made sure to go up the stairs down the stairs through the garage around the kitchen table back up the stairs back through the garage.
And every single time, he would.
My parents met in college at Dayton University in Ohio. Upon graduating, they moved straight down to Raleigh with a combined savings of $120. They had their fun eating tuna sandwiches and easy mac for months trying to stretch their incomes. And then I came along. My mom had tried to have kids for years so I like to think of myself as their little miracle! Boy was I a force to be reckoned with.
You think the running was bad? I used to crawl out of my crib, down the stairs, and plug Scooby Doo into our VHS playing loud enough until my dad would come snatch me up. THEN, after escaping my crib AGAIN, I would bang on their door until he let me in so I could lay next to them.
The fun doesn’t stop there boys and girls!
I’d pester the living hell out of him until he hooked his pointer finger inside of my cheek and I chewed it like a pacifier. Hey, it must’ve been those amazing nail beds.
My dad means everything to me, and he’s always worked his ass off to make sure I know it. He’s taught me determination, persistence. He’s shown me the importance of generosity and sacrifice but he’s also taught me to be stubborn enough to get what I want, how to be hard headed. He’s instilled a resilience inside of me that I’ve carried through twenty one years of life.
Resilience goes hand in hand with elasticity, adaptability, and I guess that’s why I’ve saved this color for last. Remembering your blues, longing for your orange. Appreciating your pink, looking forward to your gold. Vulnerability is feeling, it’s passion. It’s recognizance, and it’s growth. Vulnerability is red.
Remember we talked about that hill, the one so steep that you have to carefully step it before you lose control and just snowball down the other side. Everything in life leads up to that hill, or one just like it.
Everyone knows a red flag, though sometimes we like to ignore that stop sign or gun it through the light. Everything about a red flag tells you to stop, reassess. After surgery the bleeding stops, the red dries up. But there’s always that chance you’ll scrape the nerve, the blood rushes out. That cautious hand holding the scalpel, there’s your vulnerability. Insistent on vigilance, tucking the stitch with sure confidence, there’s your growth.
You grow. You learn. You bounce back from your leash pull, you’re elastic.
You dye your hair. You quit your job. You learn to love from behind a mask and stock up on toilet paper, you’ve adapted. Resilience isn’t hidden in success or survivorship. Resilience is the blueprint that leads to the trophy.
Red is courage.
Red is bravery.
It’s trust, sacrifice, passion, determination and persistence.
It’s moving nine hours South with your college sweetheart, and knowing everything is going to turn out alright. It’s that university hat you haven’t worn in years but your wife’s heart skips a beat at just the thought of it.
It’s raising a daughter and teaching her not to shrink herself down to check a box she is far too big to fit in. I stopped painting clouds when I learned not to live with my head in ‘em. There’s so much more than the sky, and I’ve learned to be brighter than every last star.
I’ve written a version of the same letter to my dad for the last five years on Father’s Day, though I’m not sure if he’s noticed. I could never run out of things to say to him, but it’s hard to find words to show what he means to me. He’s always been the same dad, he’s consistent.