The last time I saw my father, I was 16, and my mum had been the one making the dinner reservation.
Now, months in advance of our meeting, I was sat feverishly googling restaurants that would suit the occasion – and it was proving harder than I imagined.
I thought seeing him would be the most difficult part, but apparently, this was.
Friends asked me if I was worried about conversation flowing, or what I thought it would be like to see him for the first time as an adult, but all I could think about was what I would be eating as I contended with these more serious concerns.
You may be wondering, ‘how hard can it be? Just choose somewhere’, but it really isn’t that simple.
My father doesn’t live in the UK, so it’s not like I could just shift the onus onto him.
So instead, I was sat making a mental list of everything I had to consider in advance of booking somewhere to eat. I imagine anyone planning a difficult conversation over meal might have similar issues to contend with.
Firstly, I had to think about location.
There was absolutely no way I wanted him to bring him close to my flat. I didn’t want to reveal too much about myself – gleaning information about someone is a privilege and not a right – and so I wanted there to be zero chance of him popping round to mine for a nightcap afterwards. You can control the image you present when chatting with someone, but I think seeing the inside of a person’s home really speaks to their character.
That ruled out a lot of my favourite eateries.
Then, I realised I didn’t want to bring him to any restaurants that I loved. In case the dinner went tits up, I couldn’t risk a great dish as collateral damage. Similarly, I wasn’t keen on taking him to nice places I had gone to with friends or my mum as I didn’t want memories of this meeting to be the only thing I associated with the location.
It might sound overly dramatic, but I’m the sort of person that goes to their beloved restaurants over and over again (so much so that the word ‘Hoppers’ – a fab Sri Lankan restaurant – was banned in our house because I spoke about it too much).
Eventually, I decided we’d go somewhere near his hotel. Unfortunately, this also happened to be in the area I grew up, which brought me onto my next concern: bumping into someone I know.
Having to do the whole, ‘Hi, how are you? Oh this person I’m with? They’re just my dad – you know, the one I haven’t seen in a while’, as I crossed paths with a friend on Upper Street. I spiralled as I thought of every way that I would navigate that improbable but anxiety-inducing hypothetical scenario.
I wasn’t being completely …read more