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The Myers Brigg’s personality test uses a series of questions to determine a combination of four letters, which represent your individual personality type. I am an INFP; the letters stand for Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving. After taking the test I became curious about other people’s personality types and how they related to my own, and I soon began bombarding friends and family with the test, including my father. It determined that he is an ENFP, only one letter off from myself, in his extraversion. Evidently I am three-fourths my father, and it doesn’t surprise me at all.
My father is a cartoon character in that he always wears the exact same outfit. Button down long sleeve shirts tucked into a pair of Levi’s is his signature look. Family members have tried to buy him sweaters, but they inevitably end up in the back of a closet, forever unworn. He has small eyes hidden behind thick glasses, and his wavy gray hair doesn’t sit still no matter how much he brushes it. Every pen he owns is covered in bite marks, as he cannot think without the utensil held between his teeth. One day we were walking through the grocery store when he suddenly turned around to me, blue ink dripping out of his mouth and down his chin. He had bitten down too hard and cracked open the pen. He looked at me in a panic and frantically tried to spit out all the ink, wiping at his face. I should have helped him but instead I laughed next to the frozen peas. While people have always noted my likeness to my father, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I started to notice it as well. I had become busier with school and work and had started using caffeine more frequently as a result. Almost every time I walked out of my home, the coffee in my hand would inevitably splash out of its cup, splattering all over me, dotting my clean clothes with little brown circles. My father doesn’t put lids on ?his coffee cups, even when driving, because he likes to smell the aromas before he drinks the liquid. This always leads to countless stains on his shirts, and every time it happens he’s still just as angry. After I noticed this similarity, I began to notice everything. The clutter around my home resembled his; my forgetfulness was a photocopy of his absent-mind. I get irrationally nervous just like he does, and over think every aspect of my life inthe same way he always has.
Sometimes he apologizes to me for his genes. I’ll lose my phone and find it sittingon top of my car ten minutes later. He’ll say, “I’m sorry Laura, it’s my fault you’re like this.”
When I was little I wanted to be him. To me he was magic. He was black tea made with milk kept hot in thermoses and long walks through the woods. He was the crunch of leaves underneath feet that wore the same brown leather shoes everyday. He was stopping to stare at a flower for too long and getting overly excited at the babble of a creek. Our conversations were what made the imaginary real.
The calm seriousness in my father’s voice when he spoke of the existence of goblins, fairies and dragons left me entirely positive that creatures I’d never seen before were just a few feet away, hidden behind some bush or relaxing underneath a tree. We would sit on old logs and listen to them. I didn’t hear them at first, but when he told me he could hear their footsteps and giggles I began to as well.
As I got older I started to see things differently. Becoming my father was no longer a goal, but rather a fear. I started to pay attention more, and his flaws began to crawl their way out of him, becoming obvious where I had missed them before. I began to understand that my father didn’t constantly pop Altoids into his mouth for minty ?breath, but rather to cover up the stench of something else. He didn’t realize it leaked out of his pores anyway. I started to gather that his trips to the grocery store didn’t take four hours because he was easily distractible; it was because that wasn’t the only place he’d gone. His constant apologies grew from, “I’m sorry I’m late,” to “I’m sorry I’m such a horrible father,” the words caught in between streams of tears.
The Myers Briggs personality test claims that I am three-fourths my father. Our personalities are the same in almost every way. I carry pieces of him in the way I speak, in the way I react and in the way I think. However, it is my hope that there are also a few bits of him that are held in that fourth that isn’t mine. We look to our parents for guidance, and they help shape our understanding of the world. When we’re young, it’s easy to only see the things we want to, living blissfully unaware in our own ignorance. But eventually, just as we become more aware of our own imperfections, those defects present in our mothers and fathers will emerge as well; we just have to try our best to do better at the parts where they fell short.
Laura Kokernot is a student and waitress who lives in Yellow Springs, OH, a town also known as “the middle of nowhere” and enjoys scribbling down the oddities of her imagination. Laura writes poetry, pros, and creative nonfiction and has written several articles for OffBeat Magazine’s online news. She is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in literature at Antioch College.
I have writers block. Maybe because I don't hate anyone or love anyone. Maybe this is why I stop taking my medication, because it helps me write. I think a lot of writers are like that. A lot of writers are depressed. I wonder if they stop taking their medication too. They tell their families and friends they're fine and yes, I'm taking my meds don't worry. And then they come out with another book or story or poem and its like Wow! Good job! But it is just a writer milking their mental illness and letting it cuddle with them until they're so messed up all they know howto do is write. Artists are probably like that too. They hurt so bad until they only know how to create beautiful art that rips the thorns out of their minds and creates flowers. I love to write and I wish I could when I was happy... I wish my medication didn't look me in the eyes and tell me I'm fine and I don't need it then 3 days later laugh in my face as I cry in my bed feeling like the whole world is on my shoulders. Mental illnesses are drty liars. Medication and chemical imbalance meet up and the pills give a quick smile and everything is rebalanced and in love like a middle schooler after their first kiss. Pills are so evil, yet so loving. They want me to be happy but they love to tease me back and forth and play games seeing how long I can go without them. Take more, I think. Taking more throws medown 6 feet under and I can't breathe. You can't do that, they tell me, Stop using me so fast, use me slower I want to be with you as long as I want. You can take a break. You're normal, it's okay. No, I need you, I tell them, they laugh, and say yes you do need me, then they run away and tell me I'll be fine.
Lily is a 17 year old from Massachusetts. She has been struggling with depression for as long as she can remember and writing always has helped her cope.
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