Part 9: El Ingeniero con Alma de Poeta
My father’s last years of life were simply painful.
My departure to college forced my parents to look directly at one other without distractions, unearthing years of resentment that previously went unspoken. Venezuela’s downfall tanked my father’s attitude, clothing him in a persistent cloak of bitterness as our country bled its people.
Unable to mend a marriage, my mother filed for divorce during my senior year of college. They signed their divorce papers on my graduation day and I fled to New York, forfeiting my role as a bridge and impasse straddling warring factions.
As an immigrant navigating higher education in the United States, I found it difficult to narrow down a career path without much needed counsel. I felt the growing pressure to reach major milestones within my father’s lifetime, undermining the ease with which we previously loved one another.
Ironically enough, growing up the child of an engineer and painter muddied the waters when selecting a standard profession. He taught me to excel in writing and math, reading and science, torturing the process by which I devoted myself to a single, elusive calling.
I also reflected the independence heralded by my father and mother, surprising no one when I claimed to retain my worth as an individual whether I chose to marry or not. Although this was largely an act of defiance in the face of a traditional Texas intent upon defining me as an extension of male figures, I showed no desire to yield grandchildren during my blooming stage of self-discovery, even as my growth coincided with my father’s aging.
Bitterness and discontent slowly poisoned a relationship that once served to ground me. The man who taught me how to balance had lost his true north and demanded I serve as the anchor while I flew much like the kites in his early paintings.
And then, a few years later, I took upon calling him each time I walked around my neighborhood in New York.
We talked about my job as the path ahead of me defined itself. He celebrated my decision to end a painful relationship. He steered me as I switched industries fresh out of college. He lamented the time he would lose with me when I moved to Peru, yet he came to accept the common phrase that children are much like boats — they must depart the harbor and navigate their own storms.
During my trips to Texas, we visited art galleries and got reprimanded by museum staff for standing too closely to the Picasso’s. We became regulars at a Mediterranean restaurant on Mason Rd. that has since closed its doors. Sitting outside a diner, he agreed to share his life story, allowing me to record many of the stories I write here now.
Over the years, we mended one another, guiding us to the days when we laid across each other, motionless, staring into the end of the road approaching.