by Tara Riccio
(Charlottesville, VA, USA)
His breakfast usually consists of two things: a large bowl of something mushy and a tall jar of something verdant. I've never asked exactly what each consists of, but I have gathered that the first usually entails some sort of barley, fruit, and flax seeds while the second has some liquid relation to wheat grass. What my dad calls breakfast, however, usually occurs around 1:00 PM and is preceded by several hours laboring in the garden and a long, slow jog around the neighborhood. It is by around 3:00 PM that the working day begins: several hours of hunting and pecking in an effort to reply to three or four emails, a few dogged attempts trying to scan a piece of art that is too big for the scanner, and then a few hours actually drawing -- sometimes for the small text book jobs, sometimes for children's books, and sometimes just for fun.
Dinner is where our two paths usually cross: the few minutes of our day we share with one another. Gastronomically, we've never really been able to agree on anything besides whole-wheat pasta so we eat a lot of it these days. We sit at a wooden table, adjacent to the living room, which lacks the two items one always expects to see: a couch, and a TV. We've taken several trips to Grand Home Furnishings, but we've never left with more than the free Cokes they present to you on arrival. The living room has remained an open space since the day my mom moved out with the couch, left vacant for the sole purpose of giving me room to dance and do gymnastics while blasting Dar Williams CDs (activities I am ashamed to say I no longer practice on a regular basis).
Much to my father's dismay, my favorite food is bacon, my shampoo is not biodegradable, and my dream is not to own a biodynamic orchard, living off the fruits of the soil. Nevertheless, the understated wisdom (and occasional conspiracy theory) he has imparted unto me throughout my life, and especially in the past year we have been living alone together, have taught me the value of consistency and instilled in me an appreciation for life's small pleasures. In addition to a determination to reduce my carbon footprint, I have gained a respect for the tranquil, reliable rhythms of my dad's schedule, which ground me when the pace of adolescence gets a little hectic. His habits -- eccentric though they are -- remind me that home is not a physical location, but rather, a reflection of the people who surround you.