Living on my own in the garage apartment came with mixed feelings for me. I loved living with my adopted family because it was the life I had so desperately wanted. Yet, I was excited to have my own space. I suppose living with my adopted family gave me a taste of what I was missing, so it made it hard for me to leave on an emotional level.
I remember right before my new apartment was ready, I was so nervous about moving. It was as if I was heading out on my own for the first time and I was scared. I loved living with a family and being a part of it. I hated the thought of losing it. Often when I was in “my” room (really the room of their oldest son who was away at college) I’d pretend my adopted parents were my real parents. Just thinking about the security of having those parents made me safe. Hell, I had forgotten what that felt like and realized how important it was for a child. Knowing there was a loved one out there rooting for you and caring for you was important to me and I hated that my own Dad couldn’t provide it to me. Instead, I had a father who expected his children to provide for him and to make him the center of their world. Unfortunately, no matter what we did it was never enough. Also I know for myself the more I gave to him, the more he expected. It was an exhausting never ending cycle. My sister was just able to jump ship a bit quicker than me fortunately.
I can’t even begin to tell you how I hated wasting my time thinking about what I was missing. It would only make me mourn my losses over and over again. When would I be able to just mourn it and move on? It stifled me. My brain had so much control over me. I couldn’t stop it from thinking about the very things I wanted behind me. There was something else I hated. Common for me to live my life flipping between the world I created in my head and the one that actually existed, it was difficult for me to delineate between the two. And yet to be honest I really wasn’t so sure my world of reality was so real either. Until I left Daddy I wasn’t able to see that my mentality was the same as his. Or should I say he beat a way of thinking into me that I have spent a lifetime trying to get rid of it. And not knowing what was good or bad because everything Daddy taught us was falsified and embellished, I had no way of knowing what behavior or thoughts to throw out. I will never know if he intensionally lied about every G-d damn thing or if he actually believed what he said, but regardless what a bastard he was to pass it to his children. Looking back and speaking to my sister he really told some doozies that I found very hard to believe he didn’t know what he was saying. Sadly though, it would take me years to see that truth and even many more years to undo that way of thinking. He left me a legacy of always having to rethink situations and events. Interpreting situations like him meant to do so in a crazy, convoluted way. I called it, “The Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I have many examples of the “Daddy’s Method of thinking” throughout my chapters. You know, his interpretations of an event really were fucked up and just not with in this world. And if the situation didn’t turn out as he wanted or with him as the main focus, the it meant nobody loved him. Because, don’t you know if we loved him, we would have done as he wanted? OY!
So,OK, here’s just another situation of “Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I had been living in my new apartment for a couple of years when Daddy called to tell me he was going to let me borrow one of his cars. He had gotten a Lincoln and had his old Ford LTD he wanted me to use. He told me he couldn’t drive both cars, so I could use his Ford LTD. Well, of course I was suspicious because well, you know, I never knew what strings were attached to the deal. As I’ve said, he just didn’t do something without getting a return from it. However, he did intimate he had a new girlfriend who had encouraged him to do something nice for me. That same one laughed when she saw Daddy had two cars, so maybe that was how the idea of giving me one of them came about.
When Daddy offered the car to me I told him I had no money for the insurance nor could I afford to pay for any repairs on the car. I told him I didn’t want to seem ungrateful but I had to think about worse case scenarios and if I could afford them. I suppose that day he offered the car to me he was a good and generous mood because he agreed he’d take care of the insurance and any repairs the car may need in the future. Listen, I had been burned once. I knew there was a very high risk in using his car. But, I looked at it this way. I would not plan taking any job around having a car. I would always make sure the job was accessible by foot or bus. I would view the car as a perk until it went away. And as long as my name wasn’t on the car title or on the insurance, I could walk away from it at anytime.
So, Daddy let me use the car. It was nice to be able to drive to the laundry mat. Oy! Try walking a mile to the laundry mat with bags of dirty clothes. Typically, I couldn’t carry all of it, so I would only take a backpack full. And then their was being able to go to the grocery store. Wow! It was so nice to not have to buy a small amount at a time because that was all I could carry. Then, more than anything there were those times I could work in the school ceramics studio late at night and not have to worry about walking home in the dark. As much as I relished having the car it was always in the back of my mind it would be taken away at any moment. Isn’t that so sad I automatically had to think that way about my own Dad? I hated not trusting him but that was his track record.
Well, when I had Daddy’s car, he’d call me a good bit. Sometimes he’d call to see how I was doing (usually when he had been rejected by a girlfriend and he was lonely) and other times he had a check list of important information he needed to give me. It usually was where this was or that was for me to find if he died. It all depended on his mental state at the time as to the direction of the conversation. Listen people, for a while there Daddy thought the Mossad was after him. Yes, he thought the Israeli secret service was after him. He was certain of it too. He thought his phones were tapped and they were watching him around the clock. Meanwhile, he could never tell me why he thought they were. It was just his gut feeling which according to him was never wrong. Yeah, I know. I think his gut may have been a bissel mashugunah by that point.
Anyway, one Saturday morning he called and asked me if I had a moment to go to his apartment. He said he needed to talk to me. It was always a production with him. And G-d forbid he do it over the phone because the Mossad may over hear him. OK, sorry. I know it’s not funny but really? I think the Mossad had more pressing business like maybe, um, let me think, THE TERRORISTS WANTING TO BLOW UP THE STATE OF ISRAEL, maybe!? Alright, I just had to get that off my chest. So, I told Daddy I could come the next afternoon. He told me it was really important and asked if I could come that day. Because I didn’t have to babysit that evening had made plans to go to a movie with a friend. I figured it would be best to head over to Daddy’s by noon so that it would give me plenty of time for him to talk to me and for mr to go home to get ready for the movie. See, here was the thing. There never was such thing as spending a little time with Daddy. He would absorb a shit load of your time. So, I would have to build in that time to make sure I wasn’t ever late. But, we ain’t talking about adding an extra 30 minutes. No! I’d have to add extra hours!
OK, so right before I left for Daddy’s apartment I received a call from the wife who owned my garage apartment. She wanted to see if their was anyway I could babysit for her that day from 2 that afternoon to 4. Here was the situation. Because of the wonderful living arrangement I had I had promised myself to never turn her down as long as I didn’t have a school obligation or another job obligation. I felt I owed that to the family. Plus, I loved their little girl. So, I told her I would babysit. I was just a little nervous because I hadn’t built in that time. That meant I would have to make my time with Daddy short. Here’s the crazy part. If I got to Daddy’s by noon and needed to leave by 1:30, would you believe he considered that a short amount of time? I knew by accepting the babysitting that day I’d be taking a risk with Daddy. It would solely depend on his mood as to whether he’d hit the roof or be understanding I needed to leave.
It was around 11:30 that Saturday morning that I headed over to Daddy’s place. I knew I would need to tell Daddy as soon as I got there that I’d need to leave no later than 1:30. I figured that was my best bet, so he’d know upfront. And then if he was in a mood I would have time to get home even if I had to walk back home.
The fact that Daddy was well aware of my arrangement he knew when I said I had to babysit, it was my priority and it was imperative I not be late. But, the question of the day was…can I have a drum roll please? The question of the day was, “What would Daddy’s mood be?” Remember, there never was an in-between nor could he ever be upset about something for just a minute. Oh no! He’d spend hours yelling about it. Here was the tricky part. If he was in a good mood at the moment he said hello to you, you had a chance. Now, his mood could go sour in second, so it was crucial to be on your toes the best you could. Even that was a difficult challenge. But, if he was in a bad mood the moment he said hello to you, forget it. You didn’t have a chance in he’ll. Sadly, if I looked at it all statistically, Daddy was in a BAD mood 98% of the time, so I wasn’t faring too well on my chances. But, I kept thinking positively hoping it would all work out in a copacetic manner.
When I arrived I walked up the metal flight of stairs to his apartment and rang his doorbell. He didn’t answer. I waited a few minutes just in case he was in the bathroom but when I didn’t hear him, I rang it again. When he still didn’t answer the door, I waited. Yeah, I know. That was dumb. But, I knew it would have been a no win situation whether I stayed or left. I must have waited a good 30 minutes when he finally opened the door. And of course, I was still there. STUPID ME! I know, I know.
So, want to guess his mood when he answered the door? And the winner goes to the lady in red who answered, “He was pissed!” Good answer! Well, he was pissed because I rang his doorbell too many times. That’s right. Daddy had a rule for that too. However, how many was too many was your guess on any given day. When he motioned for me to come inside and once I did, he angrily told me how rude I was to ring his doorbell so often. He wasn’t a happy camper when I told him that I had only rung it twice. He was furious because he was on the phone with a very important call. And because I was ringing the doorbell I screwed up the call. I thought how that was even possible. What a crazy thing to say! Needless to say, I knew that visit was going to be an interesting visit. Daddy told me to sit down. As I did I went ahead and told him I had to leave no later than 1:30 because I had to babysit. He was so angry that I was “choosing to limit my time with him and forcing him to talk to me with in a certain amount of time I dictating.” He was angry I had not told him I had to babysit when he first called me about coming over. When I told him I had just gotten the call before I left to come to him, he said,”Oh, I get it. That’s how much I mean to you. It’s more important to help a stranger than to help your own father. I get it now.”
First of all, I thought, “Help him how?” I was coming over to talk and I have commitments I have to keep. Daddy knew about my living arrangements so it was no surprise to him that babysitting took precedence. I could see Daddy was getting angrier and angrier. A normal person would have left at that point. However, I knew if I did, he would have taken the car and I would have had to figure out a way home. So, I really was trying to appease him anyway I could so I could leave amicably.
Alright so I may have seen the car as temporary, but I made the grave mistake of not preparing and keeping from being in the very situation I found myself in that Saturday afternoon. I knew If I couldn’t calm him down by the time I needed to leave, I was terrified I would be stranded without having a way back home to babysit. I hated that I had not been one step ahead of him to assure I wouldn’t have been stuck. I just knew I was screwed! I could see it coming.
Daddy started yelling at me. He said if I cared about his well being I would have put him before babysitting. As he continued to go on and on, I began brainstorming on the friends I could call to get a ride home. That was my priority, so I could just leave and not have to sit there any longer. But, as I was thinking of who I could call for a ride I was interrupted when a pillow hit my head. I remember looking straight into Daddy’s eyes and telling him that was not acceptable. I knew it was time for me to leave, so I stood up. I also knew the next thing he’d throw may not be as soft. Daddy was way beyond the point of return and I knew I didn’t need to take anymore. I told him it would be best for me to come back when he had calmed down. Just as I said that he stood up and yelled, “OK, Miss smart ass! Like hell do you tell me to calm down! You may have forgotten but I am your father and you are to show me respect. You don’t EVER tell me to calm down!” By this point his eyes were bulging out from their sockets and the intensity of his anger was too reminiscent of times past. The difference was this time knew I had a choice to leave. And even though it took me maybe a little bit longer to leave than someone else, it still took a lot of strength for me to walk out when I did. As I walked to the door to leave Daddy gave me an ultimatum. He yelled,”If you choose to walk out that door instead of staying here and helping me, then you can just give me my fucking car back. By leaving you are telling me you care more about yourself than your own father. And by leaving you are telling me you don’t love me. The reason you even have a car is because of me! I refused to be taken advantage of and mistreated by you any longer! So, it’s your choice.”
I remember standing there totally taken a back by the craziness of his ultimatum. I even gave a chuckled and said, “Daddy, I cannot believe you are this angry over me going to babysit. I am not choosing one or the other. I have an obligation I must uphold. Having to fill that obligation does not mean I don’t love you. You are talking about apples and oranges here.” Unfortunately, there was no way for Daddy to understand and as expected he went ballistic. Holy Crap! How in the fucking hell did this come to such a ridiculous point? There was no reason for him to be that angry. But in Daddy’s world he expected to be the center of everyone’s universe. And that Saturday I seemed to have knocked him off center. Hmmmm, how apropos to call him and his vision of his world- off centered.
Anyway, while he was yelling at me, I started to walk to his front door to leave. As I did he lunged towards me to try to grab the keys to the car from my hands. He missed. I kept walking as I told him I’d be happy to make arrangements to get the car back to him after I was done babysitting that day. I knew I needed to get out of there. It was already 1:15 and I was really worried about being late. It was ironic that Daddy complained he couldn’t move very well because he had something wrong with his leg but that day it was as if there was nothing wrong with him. I’ll chuck it off to adrenaline. As I rushed down his apartment stairs and quickly walked to the car, he moved like lightening to be right behind me. When I opened the car door and started to get in, Daddy went to take a punch at me. I dunked. He missed. At that point I actually could have locked the doors and driven off. But, Daddy’s attempt to punch me really set off my anger and I couldn’t let his attempt go by without a response. I had finally had enough! I opened the car door and walked right up to Daddy’s face. He was shocked and put his arms in front of his face thinking I was going to hit him. I stood as tall as I could, I looked Daddy straight in his eyes and while pointing at him with my index finger I said with total strength and conviction, “You will not ever fucking hit me again, Daddy! You will not ever even try to fucking hit me again. I will not stand for it ever again. And if you ever try it again Daddy, you will fucking regret it. I will no longer take it anymore!” OK, folks, I’m not sure exactly what he would have regretted but it was all I could think of to say at the time. And it worked. I will never forget the look on Daddy’s face. He looked scared and shocked and remained guarded in case I did decide to hit him. Meanwhile, I never yelled or would have ever hit him. I just wanted to stand up for myself. As I took my house key off the car key ring he stood there emotionless. I gathered my few belongings from the car, handed him the keys and walked away (towards the nearest pay phone). As I was walking away I started shaking. I couldn’t believe I had finally stood up to Daddy. As good as it felt there was a part of me that couldn’t stop shaking because it was so scary to have done it. I made it to a pay phone and realized I had not one penny on me. I was so screwed! With no other option I turned the lever on the pay phone coin return. To my amazement two quarters dropped out. I couldn’t believe it! The first call I made my friend’s answering machine answered. I had one quarter left to call one more friend with the hopes they were home to give me a ride. Sure enough that friend was home and she kindly came to get me. By the time my friend pulled up, I was crying. As right as I knew I was about finally really and truly being able to stand up to Daddy, it was overwhelmingly sad. Then, my friend asked how I was able to call her. When I told her about my luck with the quarters, we both had a good laugh. And I want you to know Daddy NEVER hit me again.