We had planned to meet at 11 am at one of our two spots, Pho Bolsa in Westminster. It is a good midway point between the City of Orange and Long Beach, and the food is cheap. It's a 20 minute drive to Westminster from both cities.
My cellphone clock read 10:45. I checked myself in the bathroom mirror one last time. I hadn't noticed earlier the little stubs of hair sprouting up around my eyebrows. Hastily I began plucking away the tiny stubs, growing impatient as the blunt tweezers broke a few follicles, leaving little black dots under my brow and making it almost impossible grab hold of the tiny things.
I'm a few minutes late to events all the time. Even to work. I can't find the right shoes to go with my pants, my lip color is too cool against the warmer tones of my blush, or I stay in bed a few minutes too long after dismissing the snooze alarm. This time I couldn't leave without perfectly groomed brows.
10:55 and I decided to transfer everything from my purse to a messenger bag, in case I needed my laptop. On my way out the door at 11:02 I called to let my father know I'd be late to our interview. "I'm on the freeway, there's some traffic. I'll be there in a few minutes ok?"
"Eh," my father said patiently. "Okay. No problem, I'll wait."
I knew he wouldn't be angry with me if I told the truth, but for whatever reason, it didn't seem appropriate. It wasn't a good enough explanation for disappointing him.
Five years ago I believed my father could never feel love without bitterness and disappointment toward his three children. But the Spring of 2005 seemed to lift away a layer of skin so hard and callused that his beaming face when I delivered my commencement speech seemed to belong to another man. A wide smile and sparkling eyes betrayed a child-like sweetness I thought had faded with the old photos.