There are years that ask questions and years that answer
-Zora Neale Hurston.
Today is my father’s 86th birthday! My sister Alice wrote a beautiful ode to him on her blog, From the Frontlines. The words I would use to describe my father would be colorful, charismatic, and complicated. Although growing up with him was trying much of the time, his aesthetic genius continually amazes me. This genius was definitely lost on me while I was younger.
An excellent example of this was when we moved into a new house before my youngest sister was born. I remembering being so excited to move into the normal tract style home. I adored its normalcy, its perfectly delineated spaces. I imagined sofas and beds and doilies on side tables. I wanted a fence lined with flowerbeds to surround it.
My father quickly got to work tearing out walls and taking all the doors off of their hinges. He created, much to my dismay, a flowing, connected space that left little privacy or hope for convention. He built in our furniture and beds, as was his usual habit. I was hurt, but unfazed. I told him of my plan to plant flowers all along the back fence to show neatly where our yard began and the wild meadow behind us ended. This, however, was met with great opposition. Planting flowers along the fence would break up the view, explained my father. It would stop the eye from wandering. I did not know then how to explain to him that that was exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to differentiate our family from the wild, I wanted normalcy, I wanted a tract house with doors!
As I got older, I came to love his aesthetic more than I could have ever imagined. I grew to see his genius. I admire his skill and viewpoint. We have not always gotten along, we have clashed, but I think that in that is a mutual respect. And I am no longer a six-year-old wishing for a picket fence, I am now an adult with my own fence. And it has flowers all along it!
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