Map to the Star

“Again the pressure pushes me in the chair, shuts my eyes. I notice the dark red tongues of the flame outside the windows. I’m trying to memorise, fix all the feelings, the peculiarities of this descending, to tell those, who will be conquering space after me.”
(Valentina Tereshkova)

There are 4 million divorced fathers in Italy, many of them struggle to spend time with their children. I am one of them; When my daughter, Anita, left our home with her mother, she was 4 months old. The judge sentenced that I could spend time with her twice a week (three hours per day) and a full evening every two weeks, it’s a very ordinary condition in Italy especially when the children are so young. Soon after the divorce I started to realise that I wasn’t her father yet, she couldn’t understand it. Becoming a father is something to achieve. I didn’t miss a day with her, no matter the weather or the distance; When it was cold or rainy we spent our time together in the car, listening to music; On sunny days we would walk to the park near her mother’s house, whereas on weekends I had the chance to take her to my house and spend some time with my parents. Time was never enough.
I started questioning myself about the possibility of being replaced in her life, I felt like I was loosing her. During the first Covid lockdown things became more difficult, like many other people I had several home confinement due to possible infection. Living in different houses led me to be without her an entire month, otherwise, when she was confined with me for 10 days, we had to wear masks and avoid contact because one of her schoolmates had tested positive for Covid. It’s been a very alienating time for both of us, she couldn’t play with other children and live her life freely, out in this world.

I wanted to tell this story using the space travel metaphor. Space is the most inhospitable known environment and the passion for space is something that me and my daughter share, we spent endless time staring at the night sky, studying the Solar system together or assembling rockets and satellite models.
Building our relationship has been a journey through the unknown, a research for a new world, a place where we could feel safe from the dangers of our time. A place where I could fit in my father’s clothes and she could see me as her dad.

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