This Father’s Day, I’m not thinking about my dad or me as much as I’m contemplating the eternal mystery man, my daughter’s birth father.
I know nothing about him, other than that he is from Honduras, and that he was in Guatemala long enough to impregnate a young woman who’d worked on a banana plantation.
It’s not clear whether he even knows that the Little Girl exists. That’s strange to contemplate, since being a father is the most important thing that's ever happened to me.
The night before she came to America, the Little Girl screamed in her crib in a Guatemala City hotel. Granted, I was exhausted and hallucinating from lack of sleep, but I’d developed this bizarre sense that Mayan ancestors in the kids’ chromosomes were howling their dread and disapproval of this adoption.
I was snatching jade from the jungle, yanking a jaguar from her mountain habitat. Gods, shamans, and warriors were clanging ghostly chains, channeling the then-5-month-old’s pink and perfect lungs. She was the rock rolling after Indiana Jones in the primeval forest, attacking him for taking from the cave what should never be disturbed. How dare I?
When I finally slept, my brain conjured images of the Mexican dream monsters I’d seen in Nogales markets – impossibly assembled beasts with dragon heads and lion bodies. They were the vengeance of the Honduran man coming for me – Brooklyn mean, marbled and sun-warmed – to eat my still-beating heart. I woke up in a sweat. This is fatherhood?
Whoever the mystery man is, I feel I owe him something, though I’m not sure what. Truth be told, I wonder more often about the birth mother, and whether she thinks about the child she gave birth to and put up for adoption one December in Central America.
The man and woman may only have been together for a moment. But that meeting changed my life, and made me into something I’d waited a long time to be: a father, grateful and happy, on Father’s Day.