When I was in the seventh grade I entered National City's annual fourth of July talent contest. Tap dancing to "Swing Swing Swing", I made it through the first round but then lost out to some guy who somersaulted around the stage in a full body, red sequined unitard to Prince's "I Would Die 4 U." The shame melted my guts. I was embarassed in front of my friends, my entire family ... hell, the whole damn city!
But my dad made me sit down in the bleachers to watch the fireworks show when I really wanted to go home and cry. He knew that I prided myself on never letting anyone see me cry. I cried in school only once when a kid named Jesus ran over my fingers in kindergarten.
My dad and I had that kind of dynamic from the very start. When I was six months old and refused to sit up, he spent an entire morning propping me up again and again while I screamed at him. Mom said it was the clash of the titans in her kitchen. Whenever I veered down the path of least resistance, Dad was there to turn me in the other direction.
But when I look back on that night, I also remember thinking that there was no better refuge than my dad's arms. And with the eyes of a 32-year old woman who has had her share of failures on the road of life, I now see what dad had been trying to teach me and this quote from Million Dollar Baby (courtesy of the International Movie Database), sums it better than I could:
"If there's magic in boxing, it's the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."