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Thursday, August 14, 2008

In The First Person

Only a Motion Away
by Donna Matias

During my early years, up until I was 7 or 8, it seemed like I didn't see my dad very much. He was in the Navy, which meant he was always on a ship somewhere and we were always moving to the port city where his ship was stationed. The only saving grace was that we always lived in coastal towns, which probably explains why I can't stand to be inland for any significant period of time without feeling boxed in.

As I recall things, I would attend school for a year, then the movers would come and pack our things and carry them away in a big van. We'd leave a day or so later, taking a long road trip to our next destination. It never made sense to me that although we took our time and stopped at all those Rest Areas and famous sights, by the time we'd arrive in our new home we would still have to wait weeks for the movers to bring our stuff. In the meantime, my dad would hang around a bit and help us get settled, but eventually we'd say goodbye to him and not expect to see him for a very long time. He always remembered our birthdays and he wrote lots of letters, all of which I've kept.

Once, when we had been living in the great state of Washington for about nine months, my sister and I rode our bikes down the hill to a local Esso convenience store/gas station. We were looking over the candy aisle, trying to decide on a purchase when I saw a dark-skinned man with thick black hair enter the store. I stared at him for a moment, not believing my own eyes. Then I pulled on my sister's sleeve, drawing her out of the aisle where the man couldn't see us. When I found a place of safety, one where we could see the man but he couldn't see us crouching near the Q-Tips, I pointed to him and said to my sister, "I think that's our dad."

She looked, and eventually agreed. We watched him for about a minute, perhaps less. Time always seems to distort itself during surreal moments. Our spying had grown too risky as he made his way around the aisles, so I said, "Let's get outta here!" We remained crouched and, when we saw our chance, made our way to the door. Then we ran out to our bikes and rode home like bats outta hell.

My dad came home shortly thereafter. We hugged and kissed him and told him we were happy to see him. But for some reason, we never mentioned that we already knew he was home.

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