When I was a little boy and I found myself faced with the question of what I would do when I grew up, I wasn’t ever really sure what the answer was on a professional level. An abundance of possibilities, but no clear vision of what I would be doing as a job. One thing was always very clear to me, though: I wanted to be married and have kids by the time I was 27. This was a kind of ultimatum I’d consciously set for myself because that was the age my parents were when they brought me into the world. Every daydream I ever had of myself as a grown-up was basically emulating what my Dad did, because I thought he had done a pretty great job at it.
For most of my early life I saw myself, quite proudly, as a carbon copy of my old man. Everybody would even comment on how much we looked like each other. We had the same sense of humor, the same steadfast sense of right and wrong, the same overall demeanor. I was a bit of a giant, like he was. I would feel happy whenever I caught myself displaying some of his mannerisms. There were entire conversations at the dinner table about how much I was like him. I’d be beaming while my other siblings sat there, annoyed by our celebration of my genetic predisposition.
One of my first reality checks came during my teenage years, when I found myself feeling increasingly oppressed by my Catholic upbringing. When I started to veer away from the path, Dad wrote it off as a phase. When it became clear that I had truly abandoned the flock, I had to sit down and have one of the most difficult conversations I’d ever had. My father, a lifelong Catholic, struggled with the fact that his firstborn was grappling with his faith in this way, and the fact that he might even abandon it altogether must’ve felt akin to an act of deep betrayal. In hindsight, I could’ve handled that whole situation better, but petulance is inherent to the teenage condition.
My relationship with my father remained strong over the years but there’s still that weird little bit of lingering regret that pops up every once in a while, in the nooks and crannies of my psyche. Sitting together with my Grandmother last year, he asked her if she thought we still looked alike. She said “a little bit.”
I turned 27 years old on Friday. Buenos Aires gifted me with friends, joy, love and laughter, as well as the first few whispered hints of the coming winter. I pull my collar up as I count my blessings and move forward.