I am my father’s daughter.
I salt my food before I eat it. I can live on coffee in the morning and beer (or Jameson) in the evening. I get fired up really quickly and I get over it just as quickly. I love John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker and quiet country nights. I like my dogs big and placid, lounging in the grass, and I’ve started to stockpile cowboy boots. I read voraciously, omnivorously. And I take after his side of the family, whether I like it or not: slow to show emotion, introverted, ready to leave the party before it’s halfway through.
When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was ride in the tractor with my dad. I’d get all dressed up and ready and pack my little lunch, and then the two of us would drive around the fields until I got tired or bored. I will never forget the dusty smell of the tractor, intensified by the heat, and the ground-up smell of dirt and field in the summer sun. It was just me and my dad, hanging out and doing work, and I felt very stuffed-up with importance when I got to help out on the farm. Little kids with a farmer father don’t get to see him much in the warmer months, but my father always made us the priority even in the thick of a harvest.
Now that I’m older, we like to “check the crops” instead of working the fields. We crack some beers and drive around the gravel, much in the same way I learned to drive. Dad taught me how to steer a big Suburban all over the country to the tune of John Prine on the tape deck.
When you’re a little girl, your dad is your first everything: your first true love, your first admirer, your first real pal. Your mom is your idol and then your enemy as you age into a teen, but your dad is your best friend and staunch defender. “I’ll just go ask Dad,” you say to yourself when Mom denies you what you want. Dad will always support a new dress or slip you a twenty when Mom won’t, and it’s Dad you plead to when you’ve been out past your curfew. Even when you think you’re a full-fledged lady, to your dad you’re always that same precious little girl, the center of his world in all your sweet, foreign femininity. I see my dad look at me that way all the time.
I think my mom is the most beautiful woman in the world, but it’s my dad I want to be like. Even though I’m all of 26 years old, I still think of my dad as a towering and tough cowboy, whip-smart. He can fix anything, from a broken headlight to the brakes on my car to my faulty A/C unit. He was my Charming Prince when I was little, pretending I was Cinderella in a giant blue t-shirt. He was always ready to attend whatever ball I was throwing or listen to his tiny showboat daughter sing him a ballad atop her picnic table. My dad never made me feel like I was less than any of the Disney princesses I so adored and I still feel like that little superstar every time I talk to him.
Mom always says, “You should marry a man just like your dad.” Well, Mom, I’ve been trying to find one, but whoever it is has real big cowboy boots to fill.