“Mom please,” I found myself in a position I had never expected myself to be, not in a million years. But here I stood, pleading on my mother’s last nerve. Begging her to allow me to spend the last summer before starting my adult life, with my dad in Florida; a place I had once called home 13 years ago. A place that I haven’t returned to since I left. My mother left my father when I was only 4 years old and never turned back. She was never the type to hang onto the past, letting go had always come too easily to her. She had scooped me up one day, packed our bags, and had us moved across the country to New York all in less than 24 hours.
In the years that followed this, my mom’s business took off and my relationship with my father dwindled down to monthly phone calls and him visiting 1 or 2 weekends throughout the year. The rest was history, and until his most recent visit I had never expected more out of our relationship.
This time, however, when dad came to New York for his annual visit, he had a plan, flights booked, and a request for me to spend the summer with him. “Malia has never, not once, come to visit me since the split. I have never asked for anything. I have never missed a child support payment. My home is her home too and she needs to know that,” my father’s stern words echoed in my ear. This is what he had said to my mom when he proposed the idea, and I could practically see the steam billowing from her ears as she screamed “absolutely not”. My dad didn’t cave though, and this was probably the worst I’d seen them fight since they’d actually split all those years ago.
I had never questioned why my mother was so against me visiting my dad, but I assumed it was something to do with his new wife and family, and the overall disgust she held towards him. How they were ever a couple at one point was still a mystery to me. They were polar opposites, and I’d never heard them say a single nice thing about each other. My mom was elegant and held herself to the highest standard of fashion and appearance. Her entire life focused around her business, and me, whenever she had the time to be a mother. My dad, on the other hand, usually showed up with dirt smudged on his clothes and his whole life revolved around his family. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what my dad even did for work, he talked about it so rarely.
“Malia, like I told your father, your life is here. There is nothing there for you, it’s in the past and you are beyond that place now,” my mother lectured me after I had suggested that I may actually want to visit my father this summer. Her reaction made me roll my eyes. My life was here - yeah right. For my entire life, my mother had kept me on a very short leash here and, while for the most part that had worked out, it left me with this unfulfilled craving; like I was missing a part of my life. I was a straight A student, captain of the girls' field hockey team, and had already received early acceptances to all the colleges my mother had picked out for me. Yet, deep down, I knew something was missing. I can feel it.
Up until recently, I had also been dating one of the most popular guys at my school, Brayden. Or at least that was until I caught him making out with one of my friends at a party, to which our relationship and that friendship quickly came to a very abrupt end. Plus, my best friend Alana had already made plans with her family for the summer, so that left me totally stranded here. The remainder of my friends were celebrating their final summer before college by traveling and my mother had already refused to let me go. Instead, my plans for the summer consisted of me spending time alone in the city, preparing for college and preparing to start my internship in the fall at her company which she insisted I work at. Her lifelong dream of having me takeover her business had become her next biggest goal, and when my mother had her mind set on something; she almost always got her way.
“Mom you’re not even going to be here, why does it even matter if I stay in New York!” I raised my voice. I could feel myself getting angrier at her by the second. I didn’t understand why I was getting so worked up about this. I had never even wanted to visit my dad before, but something inside me was telling me I had to go. His invitation arriving just at the right moment was my ticket away from this life that I was growing to hate. Maybe it was even the perfect break I needed before returning to my boring life in college and eventual employment in my mom’s footsteps.
“Because this is your home, and I said no!” I clenched my fists into balls at my sides, my entire body tensing as it filled with frustration. My mother continued to wash the dishes, telling me this conversation was over, but I was far from done. Never in my life before had I taken a stand against her, but the sudden confidence to do so overwhelmed me.
“Mom-“ I began, a well-planned argument already ready to spew from my lips, but I was quickly cut off without a given chance.
“ENOUGH” her voice bellowed through the room, halting me in my tracks. I nearly jumped back in shock. I had never heard her voice raised in that way before. Tears pricked at the corners of my eyes, feeling my emotions suddenly shift from confidence to fear. In an instant, I turned and ran upstairs, seeking the safety of my bed. I refused to let her see me cry, I refused to give her the chance to call me weak. I closed my bedroom door behind me, turning the lock so she couldn’t follow me. Tears flowed in a steady stream down my cheeks as I collapsed onto my bed, wrapping my comforter around me. Yet, something deep down inside of me was telling me not to give up so easily. I reached out to my nightstand and grabbed my phone to text my dad, hoping he might offer one last speech to convince her.
Mom’s pretty set on this no. I’m so sorry dad, I really did want to come.
I clicked send and then turned on a movie, settling on Coco. Pixar movies always had a special place in my heart, they could pull me out of basically any sadness. In fact, since breaking up with Braydon, Pixar movies have basically been all that played on my TV.
I left the tickets on your nightstand, in case she happens to change her mind. It’s really important to me that you come if you can convince her.
My dad replied, and I felt a pit in my stomach grow. My dad was right, he had never asked anything of my mom or I, and he always showed up whenever he was needed. This was his first request ever, and I truly did want to visit him. He was right, I had a home there with him in Florida too at one point, even if I didn’t remember much of it. I deserved to know it, even if it was just for one summer. The few memories that lingered from my time there still haunted me, and maybe if I spent just one more summer there I could finally break free of them; my parents fighting, the boy I’d called my best friend, and all the beautiful flowers that bloomed in my grandmother’s garden that I’d never had the chance to say goodbye to.
It was at this moment that I made the most impulsive and reckless decision of my life. Pulling my suitcase from under my bed, I began packing. Tomorrow morning my mother would leave for her business retreat in Europe, a summer-long excursion that she would spend with her peers navigating self-development or something along those lines. Meanwhile, only an hour after she was gone, I would take an Uber to the airport and fly to Florida to spend the summer with my dad. Then I would return early in the last week of August, before mom made it back from her retreat and she would never have to know. This would be the most daring thing I had ever done, and the first notable time that I had ever gone against my mother’s wishes. Yet, what stood ahead of me in the weeks to come, I could only have imagined. For this decision would turn out to be the best one I could have ever made.