Dale M. has been living and working as a musician in San Francisco steadily for the last 39 years. His daughter, Daria, however, now 34, moved away as soon as she was old enough; from SF to LA initially, she went on to live in New York City and then to New Orleans. It was only in October of this year that she returned to live in San Francisco again, having created an opportunity to open a new branch of her travel company there. “I remember the first time I took her to LA when she was ten,” he tells me. “By this point, she had all these notebooks and schedules she would carry with her so she could write down anything that occurred to her, sketch out plans for her life. In many ways, she came into the world this incredible businesswoman. She even loved to make her own business cards for jobs she might eventually have. Anyway, on this trip to LA, she wrote down in her notebook that she will move here when she grows up, and showed it to me as proof of how serious she was. And that’s exactly what she did.”
Dale has always seen Daria as a natural traveler, born with a certain kind of ease she can carry anywhere. He describes her as flexible, calm, and resourceful, qualities necessary for the unforeseen surprises that come with every trip. They traveled quite a bit together when she was young, as both he and her mother had family back east in New Jersey and Massachusetts. From there, it was natural to deviate to NYC, which they both loved, and eventually, New Orleans, where he had numerous friends. Texas, Mexico, Vancouver, and a cross country train trip also made the list. No one, he tells me, was surprised that she chose to pursue a degree in Travel Management when she moved to LA to go to school.
“Now she’s been all over the world,” he tells me. “Many places I haven’t seen yet. When she moved away, sometimes I wouldn’t even see her once a year. It wasn’t always easy to catch each other with such different schedules. Now she lives a few blocks away and we can see each other whenever we want.
Sometimes we just jump in the car and drive around for hours talking, comparing memories, filling in the blanks for each other. Traveling in our own way, not so far from home. Movement has just always been a good vehicle for our connection.
Daria’s mother, Carolyn, he tells me, is unfortunately no longer alive, which has instinctively made their bond feel even more essential. Though they separated when Daria was only four, while she was still alive, they all lived in the same city and and stayed connected in what he calls a tribal sense with a big community of warm, mutual friends, artists, musicians, writers, all of whom Daria was exposed to from an early age, and many of which became de-facto aunts and uncles.
We were always open with her about our lives, he tells me. She knew that we both had other partners after we separated; once she was old enough, she also understood this meant we were having sex. I remember she used to joke that whenever she woke up in the morning and found I was making French Toast, she knew it meant someone had slept over.
This transparency, I think, made it easier for her to be able to be open with us when the time came for her to be ready to have relationships of her own.
Both her mother and I talked to her openly about sex and sexual energy, protection, everything that comes along with intimacy.
Unconditional love has always been the most vital aspect of being a father for him.
“For her to feel this and for me to keep learning as I go how to show it. Being open about love, personal, tender experiences, this is a very human thing. I haven’t always had the right words for what I wanted her to understand either, which is why having community and good people around you is so important. Sometimes you just have to accept that other people can express things better than you can. I’ve also never tried to push anything on her that I like. Only now, she’s started to learn an instrument, the trumpet, and begun exploring a musical side. And yes, of course I love seeing it, but
I’ve always wanted to just let her come into a being all her own, never imagining she would be a replica of me. I simply impart everything I can to try and help her journey and marvel at seeing where it takes her.