Thursday, May 24, 2007
My dad has always sort of stood out in the states, thugh it be in a quiet sort of way. People seem to instantly know he's a foreigner. It's not his looks-- with pale skin and blue eyes, hardly anyone believes that he's a full-blooded Chilean. Instead it's something intangible, something about the way he wears his clothes or combs his hair. I've never really thought about this very much until our trip. I suddenly started noticing older men that reminded me very much of Daddy. They had his same style, manner of being. It's not anything you can really point to or put your finger on, but there's a certain something there... and I realized that, though he's a bit of an anomaly in the states at times, he completely fits in in Chile.
The same can be said for Daddy's sense of humor. Sometimes he makes jokes with friends and family in the states and they don't always quite "get" the joke. I've always viewed his sense of humor as very quirky. But then there we were, at dinner with some of our Chilean family members, are they're all firing those same sorts of jokes with each other, followed by roars of laughter. They all "get" his sense of humor there.
My dad is a very cautious type of person. This is the man who, when invited to dinner at Zach's college apartment one evening, he drove there during the day so that he'd be sure of his way for that night. Zach joked to me at one point during our trip that if Daddy had been with Columbus when he sailed in 1942, he they never would've discovered America ("You want to go where? But we don't have a map and we don't know how long that way will take to get there and we might end up lost... Why don't we just go the old way, we'll know what to expect."). He of course didn't mean this in any sort of a bad way, it's just an observation. We thought later how interesting it is that my mother was first married to such a careful, less-than-adventurous person, then went on to marry Philip and man who is, well, a bit more impulsive. I almost want to sit her down sometime and ask her about what it's been like being married to 2 people with such very different types of personalities.
Zach and I planned our trip to Chile as a way to get to know and re-connect with Chile and the family living there. An unexpected, but very welcome, side effect was also to get to know my Dad in a different way. It was so interesting to see him on his "home turf," coming across old friends while walking down the street, seeing him in a place where he really did fit in, a place where although he made jokes to us he also seemed quite proud to show off. It was fun to have him as our host, and see him make such an effort so that we'd have a good time. It was great to go to dinner together most nights and get to talk with him about everything from Allende and Pinochet (he and my mom were in Chile at the time of the coup, barely newlyweds, I believe), to the disaster of the TranSantiago (the govt overhauled the bus system in February and it's been a mess ever since, causing all sorts of problems in this very compact and crowded city). We got to pick his brain and see what's going on "behind the scenes", and I think that alone was one of my favorite parts of our whole trip.