For most of my life, my father was nothing more than a cut-out in our family album. An empty hole. A reminder of what wasn’t there.
I have few childhood memories of him. In one, we are dancing together in our tiny apartment in Moscow. In another, he is leaving. My father would disappear for months at a time. Then, unexpectedly, he would come home. Until, one day, it was our turn to leave. The year was 1996. My mother woke me up and told me to pack my belongings. She said we were going on a trip, and the next morning we arrived in our new home, in California.
We never said goodbye to my father. For my mom, the solution to forget him was simple. She cut his image out of every photograph in our family album. But those holes made it harder for me to forget him. I often wondered what it would have been like to have a father. I still do.