A strange man opened the door. He had a toothpick in his mouth. A cocky sliver of wood pointing directly at me. He wore a beige toboggan. This was my daughter’s home. Well, her mother’s home to be exact. It was Christmas Eve. In my hands were two overflowing bags of hastily wrapped gifts. Red paper and tape. It was 6:30 PM.
Moments before the door opened, I stood on the porch and knocked. Gentle knocks. It was Christmas Eve and all. I heard voices. A spanish accent. Her. Then a whispered male voice. I’ll handle this, he said. She mumbled something inaudible. I’ll handle this, he said again. I thought it might have been the voice of her teenage son. I assumed as much. I was incorrect.
A man unknown to me opened the door. I was instantly confused. I had no clue who this fucking dude was. He wasn’t the guy I used to see, the guy that’s always been there. He had a toothpick between his lips. He was barricading the door. We exchanged verbal darts. My heart was raging. This strange man was telling me I wasn’t going to see my daughter. I wanted to rip his fucking face off. The verbal war continued until I realized I was not to be the victor on this night. Or any night. This guy was spending a cozy evening at home with my ex, with my daughter, with my everything, as I was denied admittance. She is my daughter, man, I said repeatedly. My daughter. It didn’t matter. I eventually handed my bags of presents to this guardian of the door. I threw my pride aside and told him to give them to her. I just want my daughter to have a nice Christmas, I told him. I slinked away like a wounded soldier. He tossed out a parting shot: I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I just kept walking, got in my car and tore off.
I made it a couple of miles until I finally had to pull off into a hotel parking lot. Tears were streaming down my face and my vision was blurred. I cranked the radio full-tilt. I screamed at everything and nothing. I pounded the steering wheel until my hands ached. I sat there for maybe 20 minutes. The loneliness crawled inside my bones. The anger consumed my heart. The guilt ate my holiday spirit. I hated the world at that exact moment. I hated how unfair life could be. I hated that I didn’t knock toothpick dude over and grab my daughter. I hated that I lost control of my emotions.
You’re not supposed to the eat pain. You’re not supposed to let the ache fester inside until it eventually robs you of hope. These last two weeks I have eaten at the buffet of pain. I gorged myself. I know that I have to let it go. I have to keep pushing forward. Time will tell.
Here’s a few songs that have been on a heavy rotation lately. Take a listen, yo.