The Night of the Non-Believers
Your mind is going crazy, and it’s only 8: 17 PM. It’s way too early to go to bed, and unfortunately it’s a night where nothing on television is entertaining enough to quiet the inner voices. So you start texting her, telling her she has to get her stuff from you, asking the same questions you’ve already asked using a different combination of words. You’re right there, at the edge of a free fall into a pit of things you might regret saying.
Then your dad calls. You have to pick up, because usually you two talk on Sundays. Tonight is not a Sunday, so it could be an emergency. Besides, perhaps this is a sign to back away from that edge from which you were looking down. You stare at the number, thinking, Do I pickup? Do I let it go to voicemail?
“Oh, hey,” he says.
You haven’t talked to your dad in about the same amount of time you’ve been hiking through a forest of emotions. The good news started pouring in four weeks ago for two weeks, but you ignored his calls during that time. Another two weeks went by, not as good as the ones prior, and you continued to ignore the calls. To be specific, you two haven’t talked since it was determined the Pittsburgh Steelers were out of the playoffs.
Your dad is from Pittsburgh, raised you to love the Steelers like family, and so you two can always talk about God’s team. But picking up his phone calls for the past four weeks has nothing to do with the Steelers disappointing season, nor are they personal. For as long as you two have been in each other’s lives, conversation hasn’t been the easiest thing, and sometimes, you hit a dry spell of not talking.
The older he gets, the more those weeks without talking get to him. When he doesn’t hear from you or your sister, he’s sad. Tonight, he’s had enough, so he calls you on a night when he knows you’ll pick up because it’s outside of tradition.
“What’s going on,” he asks.
“Oh, Dad, I don’t even know where to start,” you say.
He says, “The beginning is always a good spot.”
He’s such a smart a**.
You tell him you have good news and bad news. Up first: The bad news. You tell him about the financial hole you’re in and the problems it’s caused in your personal life. He hasn’t heard much about the girl you love, but he does know who she is, and your dad never really hears about the girls you’re dating, so for him to know who she is let’s him know she was special. You tell him she left you all because of your financial problems. You tell him the other problems it’s caused. How your short on rent again, how you’re looking at the possibility of a second job. But you don’t ever ask him to float you some money. You know better. He won’t.
There’s a deep sigh on the other end of the phone. Then your dad says, “Son, how much longer are you going to do this?”
Silence on your end.
“No, seriously,” he says. “Because I’ve heard this from you before, and to be honest, maybe it’s time to give it up.”
He starts throwing out suggestions that range from moving out of New York City and back home with your mom (not him, mind you) to a career change, beginning with classes at a trade school.
You protest, a little. You remind him of everything you have going on. You’re not moving in the wrong direction, you’re moving in the right direction very slowly. You’ve had your wake up call already and you didn’t push the snooze button.
He doesn’t believe you. He says you’re stubborn. He says you’re too old to still be dreaming.
But, HE LOVES YOU. That’s what he says. He loves you. He just doesn’t know what to say anymore. You don’t have to listen to anything he suggests, you just need to realize, he’s not going to tell you anything else. He’s out of encouragement, can’t even run on the cliches like, “Keep your head up.” He doesn’t believe you can make it anymore, not the way you’ve been trying to make it.
You tell him you love him too but you have to go do some work.
Then you hang up.
During the conversation, your ex responded to your text messages.
That conversation with your dad only caused you more anxiety. You only backed up from the edge to gain momentum for the nose dive you’re about to do right off of it.
You respond back, and tell her you want to talk.
She calls you, and you calmly ask her some questions.
You ask: “Do you still love me?”
She answers: “Yes, of course I do.”
You ask: “Do you believe I can get back on my feet and overcome this?”
She answers: I believe you have the ability to fix it. But you’ve had this problem for so long, I don’t have a reason to believe you will.
You get off the phone with her, and you sit on your couch, staring up at the ceiling.
The people who love you only want the best for you, for some of them that means taking the gloves off. Loving you and believing in you aren’t the same thing. You just learned that lesson within two conversations with people you love.
What are you going to do about that?
It’s only 9:30 PM. You have a long night ahead of you.