In Any Light, By Any Name

As a father looks to the stars for meaning, a daughter just wants him to be her dad.

| Spring 2015

  • As a child, I accept that he is seeking inspiration from Great Spirit. As an adult, I cannot fathom why he is so reckless with his brain. Or how, as he chases spiritual awareness, he fails to notice the little girl staring after him, hoping he’ll come back.
    Photo by Tara Chavez
  • My father’s idea of me is tenuous, at best. He’s not sure what I look like, let alone what I care about, or who I am inside. I realize this will always be the case. Whereas I would know him anywhere, from any angle, in any guise, by any name.
    Photo by Tara Chavez

My parents meet on a blind date in 1976. Richard with his leather cowboy hat and hand-painted jean jacket, Meridy with her purple turban and kohled eyes. He reads her aura; she reads his tarot cards. The first time they make love he has an epileptic seizure during the night and urinates in her bed. Nothing is simple.

On their third date, he takes her to an Italian restaurant in the Castro, the kind of place where “That’s Amore” plays on an infinite loop. “There’s something important I have to tell you,” Rich says. “I am carrying a spirit-child with me, a little boy, and he’s ready to be born into the here and now.”
Most likely, Meridy doesn’t believe him. But there is delirious magic in his way of speaking. A few weeks later, he looks into her eyes after lovemaking and says, “There. Now you’re pregnant.” So she is.

Rich names their unborn son Galen, after the ancient Greek physician. Meridy plays along, not questioning his intuitions. But during her pregnancy, she reads the science fiction novel Dune, by Frank Herbert, and secretly chooses the feminine name Alia. Just in case.

After a 32-hour natural labor and an episiotomy, a baby girl is born. Rich is so shaken by this dramatic turn that he flees the hospital and debauches himself in a gay bathhouse until dawn. Then he slinks back to the postpartum room and confesses.

The birth announcements are discarded and new ones printed with the name Alia. Meridy becomes Mom, a name she will always treasure. Richard becomes Dad, but not for long.


4/4/2015 3:52:01 PM

Beautifully written account of what it's like to know your father but long for a dad. My story is different but I know this feeling well. Many thanks for sharing your story.

4/4/2015 1:07:17 PM

I really enjoyed this piece. Raw and full of aching and longing for a father that wasn't present. It reminded me of my own upbringing, although mine was several shades tamer.

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