Dear Don,

This is your son. The one who's never seen your face, the one who knows practically nothing about you, only that you chose not to be a part of his life. I'm writing you this letter to tell you about the man that I am today.

When I was 12, I left all that I knew and loved behind to move across the country to a place that was completely alien to me. I live in California, in the throat-parchingly dry Mojave, where tumbleweed roll down the street, colliding with other tumbleweed, until they become enormous balls of thorn. I eke out a very modest living at a job that is beneath me while I try to free myself from the Community College mire I find myself stuck in. I live alone with my mother, who hasn't dated anyone since she left you. She's gone slowly insane; her motherly concern mutated into an obsession to keep me from leaving the house, to keep me from succeeding, to keep me from leaving her.

I've always felt shame whenever I think about asking my mother about you, as if it somehow implies that she wasn't enough. I have asked about you though. She told me that you were a very intelligent man, that you cooked well, that you were obsessed with other cultures, and that you were a pathological liar. I've tortured myself, because all of my strongest personality traits and talents seem to coincide with yours. I have a gift for learning languages, I love to cook, and seem to be an intelligent guy. A few times relatives have said things like: "You're just like your father, Jon." Each time, I'd become angry to the point of tears, and scream that I'm nothing like you. I know now that I am, in some part at least. I've struggled all my life to keep from lying to others about the most inconsequential things, and I've learned for the most part, to keep that under control. I've learned that I don't need to lie to hide myself from others, that I'm strong enough to face them as myself.

I've always told myself that I didn't miss you. That is true, in part; I didn't miss you, but I did miss having a father. On Father's Day, people would inevitably ask me things like "So, what did you get your dad this year?" I then get to explain that I don't really have a father. Sure, in the strictest of terms you're my father, but to me, you're nothing more than a sperm donor. Do I hate you? I don't think so. I certainly don't like you. The fact is that I don't know you. Part of me wants to know you and another wants nothing to do with you at all. Why then, am I writing this letter? I honestly don't know. There's so much that I want to say, but it's impossible to put 21 years of disappointment, 21 years of feeling the dull ache of that part of me that's missing, into a letter.

My mother told me once that she caught you looking in through a window trying to catch a glimpse of me. Was that enough for you? To simply know I exist? Well, that hasn't been nearly enough for me. Why did you choose not to love me? My mother made me available, invited you to be a part of my life, and you declined. This is why I get angry when people compare me to you. I could never leave a child without a father. I really hope you understand the depths of what you've taken from me, and the depths of what you have also lost.

Again, I am writing this letter to tell you about who I am today; despite you not being there, I am a kind person. I wish you no harm, I only feel sorry that things couldn't have been different. I don't know if this will bring you comfort, but I forgive you. I say it more for my comfort than yours, as I can't move on in life till I leave all that pain behind me.

Though you chose not to be part of my life when I was a baby, that choice is no longer yours. I choose not to be a part of your life now. I only hope that you can move on like I have.

Your son,

I wrote this letter the day I found my father's address and telephone number online. I haven't worked up enough courage to place the stamp on the envelope yet.

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