Up until recently, I was living a normal life: I have a high-profile job at A Law Firm and live by myself in a minimalist apartment in Manhattan with floor-to-ceiling windows. Obviously, I am 23 years old.
After my bad breakup in which I discovered that my dreamy boyfriend (who was also my boss at the Law Firm) was seeing someone else behind my back (a svelte blonde, no less), I’ve been a little melancholy. I had no choice but to start spending many evenings at dimly lit cocktail bars, looking glamorous but gloomy. I have absolutely zero female friends. It would be ridiculous if I did.
In the midst of this quiet downward spiral—you can tell I was in crisis because I wore my hair in a ponytail to work one day—yet another unexpected life event occurred.
I arrived home to my apartment that always seems to be bathed in cool tones and blue lighting, fresh groceries in hand (despite the fact that I am never seen cooking, talking about food, or eating). I was wrapping up the tail end of a phone call with my intern who I trust with monumental tasks that often require him to be at the office through all hours of the night. This sort of treatment is totally legal and doesn’t raise any eyebrows from supervisors at his educational institution, and, in fact, interning for me has gained a reputation as an experience to be coveted.
Regardless: as I sent rapid-fire instructions to my intern via my AirPods™, I suddenly got the feeling that something was not quite right in the apartment. I told my intern to stop crying and assured him that I would call him back soon. Rounding the corner into the living room, I discovered someone seated on my couch shrouded in darkness.
As the light clicked on, I immediately recognized him—despite the fact that I haven’t seen this person since I was four years old. “D—dad?”
“It’s me, baby girl,” he replied, pulling me into an unexpected embrace. I noticed that his gravelly voice betrayed a slight southern accent, which is notable since I make it known to everybody I ever interact with that I was born and raised here, in the Big Apple. I mean, that’s strange, but nothing serious, right? This is my father, after all, back after nineteen long years. I figured that this was a time for celebration, not skepticism.
I never actually asked how he managed to get inside my apartment and suggested that we head to a nearby diner to chat. This specific diner is grimy but in a performative and ultimately charming way—it felt like the right setting to catch up with my extremely estranged father. He quickly launched into what I felt to be a reasonable story, which goes as follows:
- He loved me so much when I was a little youngster. I was his tiny bundle of joy. It killed him to leave me and he always wanted to return. (Duh! And what better time than the present, specifically a present in which I have expendable income and a shocking degree of success and status?)
- He left me and my mother after he discovered that the financial company he worked at was on a downward trajectory and that he was going to be the one to be framed for fraudulent activity which he of course did not commit. He didn’t want his beloved family to be caught up in the trouble, so better to just flee before it became a possibility.
- He does not have another family, nor does he owe any powerful people any money. (It was nice that he cleared both of these things up in advance – I didn’t even have to prompt him or bring them up.)
- He’s currently staying in a very nice townhouse on the Upper East Side but we can’t go see it because it’s being fumigated. (We’ve all been there!)
So, where to begin on our journey to reconciliation, I asked? It’s too bad my mother is on a spiritual journey to find herself in a remote part of eastern Asia and can’t be reached for the next three to six months… I would have loved to talk to her about this.
My father shared that the most helpful thing would be for me to give him a place to crash these next few days while they finish painting his apartment. I mentioned how ambitious it was to have the apartment fumigated and then painted, back to back like that.
Now, I couldn’t turn my back on him, and it bears repeating that his story completely checks out, so I gave him my extra key, the code to the safe where I keep an emergency stack of cash, the routing number for my bank account, an old copy of my passport, and the password to my e-mail address, just in case.
As I walked into work today I found myself having a vivid and cinematic flashback to the time that my ex-boyfriend told me that I’m much too trusting. But he was the worst, and I’m sure that sentiment won’t become relevant again any time soon.