The View From Our Orchestra Seats

Taking a second look at the people who raised us

It’s easy to look up at our parents in their balcony seats and assess their every move. The wrongs they couldn’t make right; their mistakes and missteps. What we didn’t realize, however, was how much more they could see from their seats.

Or just how much they gave to get us on the ground level.

My dad wove around downtown, his internal GPS renowned. My sister had gifted us two tickets to An American in Paris, and the head of our household graciously said “yes” to wait nearby while mother and I claimed the seats. With his sound system retired, we filled our roles to fill the silence: my mom, barking directions from days of working past; my dad, adamant to prove his way right; and me, tap-tap-tapping on my phone to duck away from the disruption.

“Well then, I’m going to play my music!” I shouted with glee, moreso to disrupt their banter than anything else. I tap-tap-tapped to the Judy Garland track I’ve had on repeat, my taste like a good steak: well-aged.

“The night is bitter

The stars have lost their glitter…”

The crooner’s classic contralto bleated from my iPhone.

“The winds grow colder

Suddenly you’re older

And all because of the man that got awayyy!”

Day 6 Judy Garland pose

I cited Judy Garland as my favorite actress (really, the only one I knew) as a child. Who knew her real life was so dark?

As if my parents’ back-and-forth weren’t bad enough, the sound quality of this song on my tiny speakers? Way worse. Annoying, even—especially amidst the tension.

“He’s going to tell me to turn this music off,” I thought to myself, eyes darting to my dad fuming in silence. “I just know it.”

15 seconds rolled by. 30. 1 minute, and I finally shut it down—uncomfortable, myself.

Growing up, my dad was not a man of many words. But my love language is words of affirmation, and so I craved this affection. So I’d nag at “never”:

“My dad never affirms me.”

And yet, when he’d speak through his writing, he’d affect me so.

“My dad never hugs me.”

Until I found out he’d tiptoe into our rooms at 4 a.m.—before his early morning start at the job he abhorred—to kiss us goodbye; give us a better life.

It’s so easy to focus on the negatives and, more than likely, the “never”s are never true. We are nuanced beings; our actions, splayed across a spectrum.

Tonight, however, I added a different type of “never” to his list.

My dad never says “no.”

Whether transporting my mom and I downtown, or to another era with his classic tunes; bearing with my tiny speakers, or the large price tag to study abroad; crying with me when our dog died, or driving to me when my car died; or even, when I called him defeated—I had had it at my job, and wanted to leave to travel the world…

“No” was never his response.

He’s always encouraged me, always lifted me, always supported me, even silently.

Dirty Dancing lift

Thanks for lifting me unto the impossible.

I believe every wild dream I’ve ever had was backed by his belief. Every risk I’ve taken; mistake I’ve made; big leap of faith has caught air because of him. And even after a year of doors slammed in my face, I still have faith in every “yes” I get each day, ‘cuz he’s been with me all the way.

It’s so easy, sitting in our comfy orchestra seats, to look up at our parents and judge them from our level. But I implore you to take another look.

Or, at the very least, to thank them for giving us the better seats.

Cheryl Elizaga profile photoHey there! I’m Cheryl Elizaga, but you can call me “Ché”. I’m living in the in-between but choosing joy each day. This post is part of my #100DaysofWriting Challenge, because words are my weapon but consistency, my Achilles’ heel. So join me on this bumpy ride; let’s laugh, let’s talk, and maybe cry… thank you for sticking with me. 


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