A Daughterly Call

Entry #17.2 / 3rd July 2022

It took me an embarrassing ten minutes to realise that I was, in fact, exploring the Rose Garden at the US Botanic Gardens. I wasn’t sure if this was the same Rose Garden I had heard about in numerous press conferences during my previous fascination with American politics (probably not), but it certainly piqued my interest.

            At one point, there was this huge, artistic, branch design in the mist of the garden called “O Say Can You See” that I had fun walking through.

            It was so nice to be surrounded by nature and all the beauty it can bring to a day. So, it was only natural that I would go onto explore the Botanic Garden as well.

            Luckily it was free admission and after being given a map of the building, I was allowed to go in.

            Did I learn anything? I made an effort, but I’m not particularly a big science nor plant person in general. Some of the signs I tried to read were too technical for me to grasp. If my Dad were here, he’d likely encourage me to learn and insist that I read every sign we encountered.

            That being said, it didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the beauty and the amazing designs of these natural natures though.

            So, I wandered around, simply taking in the various smells, sights, and textures of everything around me. At one point, I even explored the upstairs area, though I didn’t linger long as the heat was unbearable.

            I spent a full hour here, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The atmosphere was relaxing and refreshing, which truly brightened up my day.

            Continuing to follow where the day took me, still on the path towards the Capitol, I passed through the Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens area just across the street. It was intriguing to explore, and I managed to get a good photo with the fountain with the help of a stranger. In return, we engaged in small chat that evolved into a conversation about a bit of history between the British and Americans (after he realised I was British). It felt really good – having a random chat in the midst of my day and sharing a laugh while doing it.

            Eventually I made my way to the Capitol, and I was a bit disappointed to see the area closed.

            It must be because it’s a Sunday? I thought and when I looked up times of its opening, Google said it would be open the next day, so I guessed Sunday’s are cursed.

            But I didn’t let this deter me, and I managed to snap a few good selfies. Some strangers on the street even helped me get a few photos too. It was really nice – to witness where the most important decisions of the country were made.

            As I wandered around the outside of the Capitol grounds, I came across the Neptune Fountain just across from it. Just above, the steps leading to it, was the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, that was closed as well, and I didn’t think they would allow tourists in anyway.

            As I took a break, sitting down on one of the picnic tables just outside the library, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride wash over me. I had seen and accomplished so much, and it was only midday!

            Sitting there, though, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely in that moment. I was glad to have seen it all on my own, but I didn’t have anyone to tell. I could text my sister and friends, but verbally…

            That’s when I realised that I did have someone.

            I grinned as I reached for my phone and looked for the contact I was intending to speak to.

            The phone rang, rang, and rang and I was worried for a moment that maybe he had left his phone at work, or left his phone at home whilst he’s at work.

            But those worries were soon dashed when the call picked up.

            “Hello?”

            “Hello father!” I examined with the usual phrase I held whenever we had phone calls.

            He had a light chuckle as answered with his usual phrase. “Good day daughter!” I smirked in response. “How you doing?”

            It was then I realised, somewhat selfishly, that this was probably the first bit of contact I’d had with him since coming to America. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, though. I had a lot to adjust to, and since my Dad was one of those old-generation technology people, he didn’t have Facebook or WhatsApp that I could easily contact him on. I did send him a text saying I was safe at the camp, and he did send an email asking how I was doing and if I could send any photos of my adventures.

            But I hadn’t replied to that email. Not because I couldn’t be bothered or anything, but because I had been so overwhelmed. Since the last week had been emotionally challenging, I didn’t want to accidently say anything that would worry him.

            It’s different now. Right now I was doing something that was making up for the bad parts of the week and I really wanted to share it with him.

            “I’m doing good! You?”

            “Yeah, can’t complain.”

            My lips widened upwards as I looked out towards the Capitol. “Guess where I am right now.”

            “Oh, um.” Dad paused to think. “New York?”

            “Nope!”

            “New Orleans?”

            “Nope!”

            “Uh…” I could practically see him scratching his head. “I dunno. Where?”

            I pushed my lips together in effort to contain my excitement. “Washington DC!”

            “Yeah?” Dad asked, his own excitement and curiosity coming through more strongly.

            “Yep!” I confirmed, “to be exact, I’m sitting directly cross the Capitol.”

            “Yeah?” Dad repeated, now becoming more impressed than anything. “Very good. Who’d you go there with?”

            “Ugh…” I struggled momentarily. “Well, technically I came here with two people from the camp, but I originally was going to come on my own. And I’m on my own now as Janette and Ryan wanted to do their own thing.”

            “Yeah?” Now he was shocked, which I didn’t know whether to take as an insult or not. “What have you done then?”

            I proceeded to tell him about the day before, about the hostel I’m staying at, seeing the White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. While I told him about the storm that took place and how beautiful it was, I purposely left out about the Australia part. Not only did I want him to freak out and start fearmongering me (he’s done that in the past), but I knew if I told him that I was advised by friends at the camp to go, he wouldn’t believe it was my own independent decision.

            A common theme that ran through the family and then, eventually, my Dad, is that I don’t know my own mind. That any opinions, thoughts, and decisions had to be influenced by other people.

            As I got older and matured, not only did it become really degrading, but I saw it as a way for them to avoid acknowledging the reasons behind my opinions and decisions.

            The family was known for constantly burying their heads in the sand.

            ‘Probably why they liked going to Spain so much,’ the responsible voice quipped.

            My Dad, however, I don’t think it came from a place of avoidance. I believe it stemmed more from parental concern and his lack of complete understanding of me.

            He was initially the weekend Dad. Even then, those visits were infrequent as I harboured a fear of staying over at his place after hearing about a string of burglaries in Joy’s neighbourhood (my brain works in strange ways). So, he was the Saturday Dad for a while.

            But then life took a turn – bad things happened – and at the age of fourteen, I moved in with my Dad. By then, I was a teenage girl grappling with a lot, so he didn’t have the chance to really get to know me on a day-to-day basis amidst all the chaos.

            It took years for our relationship to begin to form, and that was amid my last year of undergraduate studies. It was when I started to prioritize my mental health and focus on my well-being and academics at university. I believe that’s when he began to see me more as an adult.

            I won’t deny that I haven’t been influenced by making this sudden, whiplash decision, because I have. Conversations with Ryan about Australia set the wheels in motion. Then, the experience of traveling and witnessing various things added to it. And hearing that tarot card reading again…

            But then there have been other things that have influenced that decision. My entire life influenced that decision.

            That was something I couldn’t articulate to my Dad over a phone call. I don’t believe I could ever explain it to him because… I couldn’t entirely explain it to myself. The instant the thought, the decision, surfaced in my mind, I knew it was right. My soul, my entire being, resonated with a resounding yes, this is it!

            And how could I explain that to my Dad who would often say about himself: “I’m as deep as a puddle.”

            So, as the conversation turned into what I was doing today, I went onto the next day plans. “Guess what I’m doing tomorrow!”

            “No, I can’t, just tell me.” Dad laughed, probably understanding there will be more forced guessing games in the future.

            I showed mercy. “I’m going to Ford’s Theatre!”

            “What’s that?”

            “Well, from my understanding, a theatre is where people host performances and get paid for it.”

            I could hear him roll his eyes. “But it doesn’t sound like you’re going to see a performance.”

            I shook my head. “No. It’s actually the place where President Lincoln was shot.”

            “Yeah?” Dad replied, with a huff shortly after. “I didn’t realise he was shot in Washington DC.”

            “Same here!”

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