I’d Tell Him Happy Birthday 

My dad would have turned 58 today. I would’ve given him a call, though he wouldn’t have expected it. I would’ve started the conversation with an ecstatic Doooooodle! I would’ve heard him say “Swee-T, you took the time out of your day to call your dad, huh?” I would’ve been reminded of that same response on May 3rd, 2013 when I wished him a happy birthday from Madrid.

Two years later and I would tell him a million minuscule details of my life. The small stuff he always asked about; the daily happenings that would make him happy. Because he’d most likely be where he usually was when he answered my calls from abroad: at work. “What are you looking at Keri? Where are you? I’m sitting at my desk, 60 feet from a window and I’m not even sure what the weather’s like today.” 

I’d tell him I just came back from our go-to place on Sundays: the ice cream stand in Suri Salcedo park, where I ordered two – yes, two – ice creams with a total of four oh-my-goodness-can-I-have-more flavors (arequipe, chocolate, maracuyá and mandarina) for about $3 USD. They don’t have Rocky Road there, huh? 

I’d tell him I sang Hillsong to my students after several pleas of “Ayyyy, teacher!” and forceful blockage of the only exit route.

I’d tell him I haven’t replaced my lightbulb that blew out because his persistent Shut the Lights Before You Leave the Room mantra made me accustomed to navigating my room and my living space in the dark.

I’d tell him my work commute has involved riding shotgun on a colectivo bus and hopping on the back of a moto taxi.

I’d tell him how much fun my students are, that we’ve even done karaoke in English and he would have been stoked to hear one’s rockin’ take on “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance.

I’d tell him my apartment is equipped with a hammock, a B’quilla breeze and a palm tree view.

I’d tell him my paper daddy now permanently accompanies me on my travels.

I’d tell him how my days are based around meal times (as always) because I happy dance around my kitchen while cooking. How he’d be right there with me moving to the beat.

I’d tell him stove-popped popcorn is one of my weaknesses.

I’d tell him Pradomar is the closest I can get to a nice Colombian beach, and that I sure as hell take advantage of catching the bus there every weekend.

I’d tell him my landlord’s practical ways remind me of him.

I’d tell him I’m learning to buy what’s necessary, to not be wasteful, and to be smart about perishable groceries. Buy only what you need. 

I’d tell him I still make sure to not put things on my bed just in case I want to pass out. You never know if you’ll be too tired later and you’ll just wanna climb in bed, Keri. 

I’d tell him how Colombian women walk with purpose, each hip sway a calculated move. How I could see him shake his skinny hips to impersonate them.

I’d tell him I’m anal about how they pack my groceries at the check out, that I’d prefer to do it myself like he taught me. Like things with like things!

I can envision his smiling, wide-eyed reaction. How he’d ask more and more questions to really come to understand what it’s been like for me living and teaching English in Barranquilla. He’d let out a sigh and tell me I couldn’t complain: You’ve got quite the set up, Swee-T! And I truly can’t complain. I have absolutely nothing to complain about: I’m alive and breathing.

2 thoughts on “I’d Tell Him Happy Birthday 

  1. K,
    I love re reading . As I said before, if you got my original reply… Your dad already knows everything that you would tell him. He is always with you.
    Enjoy it all .
    Love you,


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