DEAR DAD

Dear Pops,

While you’ve been on outage, I’ve missed talking to you on Sundays. I know if I called, you’d pick up but I don’t want you distracted while operating heavy machinery so I thought I’d write you a letter instead so you can read at your leisure.

It’s March in DC which means it snowed last week. We got more snow on a Wednesday than I think we got all winter. In total, it wasn’t that much snow, but it felt like it went on forever; every time I looked out my window, it was snowing. I remember my first blizzard in DC, prepping for it the way I would a hurricane–water and non-perishable food and batteries and Shiner–and then being stunned at how quietly it all happened.

I had a lazily productive day. In the morning, I tried to make scrambled eggs but got distracted and accidentally made an omelette. I’ve tried and failed to make an omelette maybe a dozen times in my life, probably because no one ever told me that an omelette is essentially scrambled eggs you forgot about. I made coffee in a French press I inherited from a friend and drank it at my window, watching it snow. I did some work and went to yoga at noon. For lunch, I cooked salmon and then addressed some wedding envelopes in the afternoon and watched it continue to snow. Each activity folded gently into the next.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m rushing to get to the next thing on my to do list. When people ask me how I’m doing, I say that I’m busy. This is supposed to be my not-busy time, before the boathouse starts and I work 6-7 days a week and get really busy. So, since I’ve got all this free time, I’ve been working at the stationery shop and also doing some freelance work and addressing wedding envelopes and brainstorming new projects and running at least twice a week and swimming once and trying to squeeze yoga in somewhere in there and trying to go on more dates and writing these letters.

So I’ve been busy. I like being busy. I get that from you.

Being busy hasn’t been as fun lately. I don’t feel like there’s enough time to do all the things I want to do. Lately, I feel like I’m losing sight of why I don’t want to stop, just that I can’t stop.

I try to think about how you would manage it. Waking up at 5:30 for 6 AM mass, then a full day of work, and not slowing down until it’s time for the 10 o’clock news. Five kids and soccer games on the weekends and always fixing something that was broken and visiting your parents every Sunday and then doing it all over again the next week.

I think about when I was in high school and David Clifton was opening his shop in Cuero and asked you to make some metal pieces to put in his storefront. And I was 16 and wanted nothing more than to publish a book and be recognized for making something and was so in love with the idea, that you could become an overnight success and retire and make metal art and stop having to work so hard. And you said you weren’t that interested.

Why not?” “Because then it would be work and it wouldn’t be fun anymore. Sometimes you do things because they make you happy and, if people pay you for them, that’s an added bonus, but it’s not the point.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be happy, about the reasons behind why we do anything. I’m trying to find happiness in the process, not the product. I get a lot of things from you but overthinking is not one of them. You remind me to keep it simple.

I’ll see you in May! Promise me you’ll take care of yourself and not do anything stupid between now and then?

Love,

Mienke

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