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Father, Daughter Conversations and Squid Wars

“Do you think I’m a fraud?”

My dad was on our red decking reading the newspaper, like he does every morning. I was dressed to go on my daily run. I love my neon green running shoes. Those forty minutes of sweat inducing activity, I think of everything and nothing.

I need to get to the nature preserve. Take one lap within and then back to the dog park.

If my thoughts are productive I keep them, distracting myself from my lungs reaching for air. If they are not productive I look down at my neon shoes and distract my racing thoughts with the blurred images of my feet taking each step.

Tying these shoes this morning, I began overthinking, a trait that my father gave me. He gets frustrated when my sister and I blame him for our various personality flaws. This though. He knows how this works and generally remains patient when I come to him with these ridiculous ideas. They are generally regarding what other people think of me.

Do you think I come off as pretentious? Do you think I spoke too much? Do you think I annoyed them? Did that sound politically incorrect?   Things of that nature, that generally begin to build in my head after a social gathering.

“yes.” He knew that I didn’t really believe in my own fraudulence.

“I mean with my writing. Do you think I’m just trying to be cool? Do you think I am trying to be somebody I am not?”

“Taylee, I love you to death, but cool is not how I would describe you. Confused. Awkward. Moody. Slightly terrified. Shy. Shy. Those words I would use.”

I wondered why he felt the need to repeat shy. Shy is the one characteristic that I am absolutely sure about. It’s been a constant adjective used against me and in my favor and neutrally.

“And brilliant.” I said, trying to pilfer a compliment from him.

“Talented.” He looked up from the paper, correcting his daughter who won’t leave.

“Ok” I say slightly disappointed but content with his honesty.

My green shoes do their job.

Driving over to the UPS store I revel in my usual car habits. Singing and dancing as though nobody is watching and acting as though I don’t care if somebody sees. This is shattered whenever I find eyes staring. I assume people are watching, but when my eyes meet theirs, it becomes to intimate.

The UPS store is filled with boxes addressed to various places in the US and out. They have boxes in cubbies in the back that have come from everywhere. It is a worldly place.

A man walks in with a folder filled with crumpled papers.

“I need to email these to myself.”

The store clerk looks at the folder and remains calm. There are at lease 50 pages that are messy and disorganized. They match their owner who is wearing all gray and has stains on his shirt. He had a couple days worth of stubble on his face. His glasses magnified his eyes.

“Ok I would recommend you scan them together. Is that alright?”

“No I need all of them to be scanned separately.”

In this muddled man’s protest, he looks over in my direction and finds my eyes on him.

“The squid wars go on.”

He assumed I knew what he was referring to.

“The squid wars?” I was intrigued.

“Yes, the LA government is taking away rights to local fisherman and giving those rights to the speed boats from everywhere with fake licenses. They say they are fishing for 50 tons and they come out with 150. And that woman up north in San Francisco is blackmailing our LA. She has dumped nuclear waste all over the San Francisco Bay and is now blackmailing LA government. And everyone else is to worried about Jerry Springer and their own business than to look up and read and learn about all of this!”

“Wow, I had no idea.”

“I have been fishing for 26 years!   Three years ago I was working 9 months out of the year. Now I am working 3. “

I went behind the counter getting my fingers printed. She smudged each print on the glass box. It told my employers my entire history, in one black blotch. Was that what my identity came down to? The valleys and plateaus of my thumb on a computer screen.

“My wife and I did that a few months ago. She got power of attorney for me, you know just in case.” At this queue he pointed his fingers in the typical gun form. He cocked and shot. He was afraid for his life.

I didn’t say anything.

“The coast guard says I’ve already gotten some threats. You know they can kill me, but they can’t kill my spirit!”

He spread his chapped lips into a smile. I smiled back. Unsure.

“Well good luck with everything.”

I left thinking about this man on one of the boats with the neon green lights, translucent, attracting the squid to their death in the middle of the night. The boats are so tiny when I see them off the coast. They seem unnatural, otherworldly, like the fish that live in the deepest parts of the ocean. They are anonymous, not associated with humans. Somehow this man fit in the image. He belonged out with the squid. He knew them better than this populated world of banality.

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