A young journalist’s memoir chronicles her trek in search of clues to her father’s hidden life and their much-too-short relationship.
When she was 11, Loustalot’s father died from AIDS. When she was 8, her father regaled her with whimsical talk of the round-the-world trip they would take together. However, he was already infected with HIV, and the journey never became a reality. Fifteen years later, Loustalot embarked on the excursion they had planned together. “Our relationship was still alive,” she writes. “I felt trapped beneath it and all the unnatural questions he left behind. I needed to be set free. I needed to say goodbye.” Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a place her father had mentioned, became the author’s starting point; she believed that “in the far-flung places he had wanted to visit with me were the answers to him…[and] some of the answers to myself.” On her journey, Loustalot also traveled to Stockholm, where her father was a student, and her last stop was Paris, a city that meant so much to her as a little girl: “It was going to be my father’s gift to me. But how do you accept a gift from someone who isn’t here to give it to you?” Sandwiched between travel chapters, the author chronicles life in Sacramento with her mother, her father’s separate life in Santa Cruz with his lover, and, finally, her father’s decline and death. “Who or what would my father have been like if he had grown up in a community and a larger society where being gay wasn’t a bad thing?” she asks. Though she didn’t necessarily find definitive answers, her adventure makes for compelling reading.
An intimate portrait of a bittersweet father-daughter relationship.