Jan 17, 2014
Guest Blog: Finding my Family by Fajita
You might want to find a tissue or two before you get started...
My hands were clammy, smearing the ink and making the numbers blur. It didn’t matter; I had stared at the paper, turning it over and over in my hands. I had the number memorized. Eight-o-One I mumbled. Eight-o-One. I repeated this like a chant willing up the courage to dial the number. What would I say? What would I do? All afternoon I had been watching Sponge Bob reruns trying to work up the courage. My guardian had enough, “Get over it and call him already! I need my phone.”
The phone ringing seemed to be far away. I tried to remember everything I had read in the court papers. The voicemail picked up. I took a deep breath, praying for courage. I exhaled, the words rushing out as I left a message. “Hi. This is your daughter, Fajita. Call me back.” I hung up the phone like it was a fireball and tossed it back to my impatient guardian.
I tried to pay attention to the images as they blurred on the TV. Sponge Bob was saying something to Patrick, but it didn’t matter. My mind was racing, wondering when they would call me back. Thirteen years old and I had never even talked to my dad. What would he be like? Would he be friendly? Would he want me? The phone rang. I tried to focus on the TV. Squidward was annexing his lawn to keep Sponge Bob off. I tried to pretend like I wasn’t listening as my guardian answered. My heart skipped a beat, was it my dad? I ached inside as he walked outside to talk in private. What if my dad didn’t ever call?
My guardian was outside forever. Another episode started but my mind couldn’t focus on the TV. Suddenly the door opened and I snapped from my brooding as a cell phone came flying at my head. “Phone’s for you,” he mumbled just before it smacked me. I scrambled to catch it, my softball skills coming in handy. I glanced at the caller-ID. Eight-o-one. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear the blood rushing in my ears like a waterfall. I took a deep breath.
“Hello?” My voice sounded funny. I waited, glancing at the clock. I inhaled ready to speak again.
“Hello Fajita. This is Bossy, Gamer's err, your dad’s wife.”
Her voice sounded just as scared as mine. I wasn’t expecting her to call. She was explaining that I had called her cell phone and my dad was still at work. She started firing off questions like a machine gun. What size clothes did I wear? What was my favorite color? What did I like to do? Soon she had asked me so many questions I forgot my nervousness. I started asking about my dad. She told me about my little brothers. Suddenly the phone started bleating in my ear. Oh no! My battery was dying. As if sensing my call was coming to an end, my guardian called for me to start cooking dinner. “It has been nice talking to you, Bossy. My phone is dying, can you have my dad call when he gets home?” Her response was interrupted as the phone beeped one final dying cry and powered down. I looked at the phone. “Thanks a lot, stupid phone.” I put it on the charger and went to cook dinner.
I went to bed disappointed, not hearing from my dad. Had she heard me? Didn’t he want to talk to me? I slept in late after tossing and turning all night. My dreams had seemed so real last night, haunting me and stopping me from sleeping. Now I couldn’t remember anything. Funny how dreams work like that. I moped about the house doing my chores, watching TV, being restless. My guardian had enough. “Get out of this apartment. Go play with your friends!” I was banished outside. I sulked on our steps until my friend, Ja’myra rode by on her bike. After some coaxing I joined her. We raced up and down the street. I confided in her about my dad and my brothers. She listened and wondered, “Are you going to live with them? Move away? To Utah?” The way she said Utah made me smile. She clearly hadn’t been practicing like I had. It sounded like a foreign country not another state.
“I don’t know…” My mind started to wander, thinking about new little brothers and parents. Did I want to move?
“Helloooooo. Earth to Fajita.” Ja’myra was waving her hand in front of my eyes. I had stopped riding and was standing in the street, blocking traffic. “C’mon,” she said, “I think you need a drink.” We went back to the apartment. My guardian was on the porch looking for me, phone in his hand.
“Fajita, your dad is on the phone.”
“Hi Gamer.” It felt like time stopped. I was standing, my mind wondering a million questions all at once. Wondering what he sounded like. What did he look like? What did he smell like?
“Hi mija.” Mija. Daughter. He called me daughter. His voice was soft, kind, and a little nervous. A warm feeling spread throughout my body. I knew this was my dad and I knew he loved me. The walls crumbled and I began to pour my soul out to my long-lost father. He listened and laughed and we shared stories together. We talked. Sometime during our conversation I started calling him “Dad.” It was him that had to stop our conversation.
“Mija, my phone is dying. I need to go plug it in. Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Of course, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you, t--- ” He stopped half way and I knew his phone was dead. I glanced down to confirm the call ended and saw the timer on the cell phone, “call time 255:35” flashed and faded away. I smiled and I knew everything would work out.