Fathers and Daughters

When my dad was crazy about basketball and the Lakers, I was right there with him. I took up the sport, joined a rec team (did terribly), and tried to keep up with him in conversations about basketball. I remember asking him what his favorite football team was when we still lived in Japan and I knew nothing about American sports. He said the "Niners". I had no idea who they were or where they were from, but I unquestioningly touted them as my favorite team if anyone happened to ask me. My dad is a huge techie and knows everything there is to know about computers; I in turn took part in a middle school program that afforded me the opportunity to build and program a computer. My dad was into cars, so, of course, I was too.

My dad used to talk to me about cars. During car rides, I'd ask him about various makes and models, the benefits of economy cars, the luxury of sports and, well, luxury cars, and so on. I looked forward to the annual San Diego Auto Show every year and secretly hoped that my mom and sisters would opt out of attending so that I could have my dad's attention to myself. Furthermore, we'd be able to stay longer because he and I were more interested in what the auto show had to offer than did my mom and sisters.

This all took place sometime in my late elementary, middle, and early high school years. I was not old enough to drive, obviously, but I was old enough to dream. I still remember standing before a prototype of one car in particular. It was a red drop-top which spun on a rotating platform. As the show case lady described its features, I had to fight from dropping my jaw to the ground. This prototype had a built-in computer -- one which would allow the driver to navigate and even find restaurants according to cuisine.

Two years earlier, when I was in the 5th grade, I imagined up a dashboard computer in cars which would help drivers do the very same thing.

I dreamt of growing up one day and buying a car that would make my dad proud. I don't know why at the time I believed that this was what it would take to win my dad's attention and approval; nevertheless, I dreamt of two-seater sports cars, luxury sedans, and the occasional convertible. I subscribed to Car and Driver magazine in hopes of learning even more about cars in order to impress my dad and continue to have something to talk about with him.

Then, my junior year of high school, my dad was deployed to Iraq.

I didn't have anyone to take me to the auto show that year. My mom didn't want to drive me because the traffic was crazy in downtown San Diego at the convention center. My friend at the time bragged that he and my then-boyfriend went to the auto show, and to everyone's surprise, I started to cry. My then-boyfriend swooped in and confessed that our friend was just messing with me because he knew that I wanted to go so bad. I don't think any of us quite understood why the auto show meant so much to me. I ended up not going that year.

Eventually, my dad got home from Iraq. I barely recognized him when he returned -- though he was only gone for 8 months, he seemed to have aged 15 years. He was tired. He lost a lot of weight. He was quiet a lot of the time.

When New Year rolled around again, I made plans for the family to attend the 2006 SD Auto Show. I was excited out of my skin. Even my sisters were looking forward to the occasion -- they planned excitedly about the various foods that they wanted to buy once we got there. When we pulled up to the convention center, to all of our surprise, my parents said good bye and asked us what time we wanted to be picked up. My heart sank. My sisters and I looked at each other. One of us -- I don't remember who -- asked my dad, "you're not coming?!" He only shook his head. He said it would be too tiring.

I don't remember anything about that visit, except that it was the last time that I've gone. I was too embarrassed to invite my dad to the 2007 and 2008 shows; I guess I didn't want to seem uncool to him by being excited to go to something that he didn't care about anymore. In 2009, 2010, and now 2011, our family has been overseas.

I'm not sure when my next visit will be, who will be with me, or what it will be like. Was I only into the show and cars for my dad? Now that my dad has lost interest in these things, have I as well? At any rate, none of my friends care much about cars; it's difficult for me to keep an interest alive when I have no one to share it with.

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On a lighter note, my dad has recently taken up a new interest, one in which I am currently educating myself: guns. Such a strange thing for me to get into considering how I am at times afraid of my own shadow. I went shooting with my dad a few months ago and I actually did very well. My dad was so proud of me; he taught me everything I know and eased my fears when I was at first afraid to pick up the heavy, black hand gun. He lightly bragged about me to the other guys at the range. They congratulated me for starting with such a large caliber.

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