Family

“Dad. You Are a Party Person.”

Cory, 59, enjoys metal bands and raves in the desert. His daughter Taylor has spent the past year worrying about him.

An illustration of a woman in a mask nervously cowering at home as a man heads out with no mask, making the rock 'n' roll sign with his hand.
Natalie Matthews-Ramo

Cory, 59, lives in Chandler, Arizona, and his daughter Taylor, 23, lives in Phoenix. Cory is a design engineer and a dad of nine kids who range from age 12 to 34, including four foster kids; he currently lives with three of his other children. Taylor just finished a B.A. in biochemistry at ASU and will start graduate school this fall. Cory and Taylor have lived in driving distance from each other throughout the pandemic.

This is part of “I Miss You. I’m Worried About You. Get Out of My House.,” a series of conversations between parents and their children about how their relationship has changed since the beginning of lockdown.

Advertisement

Taylor: You have a lot of kids. But I would describe myself as your secretary.

Cory: You do help me a lot. I’d say we have a really close relationship.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Taylor: You are a very caring father, I will give you that. But you always have a lot on your plate. Things often slip your mind, and growing up, I felt like when someone needed to get ahold of you, they’d be like, “Taylor, are you with your dad? Taylor, I’m going to tell you this, so that your dad doesn’t forget.”

Cory: When the pandemic hit, I had just come back from a big music conference in California, where all the rock bands go. I had a bunch of camping trips planned. I’d just gotten a new Mustang. I was excited about that.

Advertisement

Taylor: Last March, I was a senior at ASU, getting ready to do a bunch of pretty hands-on, involved research projects involving DNA sequencing, through my NASA Space Grant Scholarship. Then the university shut down. I was worried about my research. The NASA Space Grant usually hosts a big consortium where we’d all present our final research, and then they’d pay for us to have a nice dinner and award sashes to all the graduating seniors. I got mine in the mail, but that was a big disappointment. I was living off campus, so I just stayed there, and I’d come visit you on the weekends. I started worrying about you as soon as the pandemic started.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Cory: I know you thought I took unnecessary risks.

Taylor: I still think you take unnecessary risks.

Cory: I quit going to raves. The kind where the party starts at like maybe 10 at night and ends at 6 in the morning.

Taylor: Yes, that was the one thing you did stop doing: going out to wild parties in the desert.

Cory: Everyone tells me, “You know, you’re really a young kid trapped in an older guy’s body.”

Taylor: Yeah, the joke is that you are an eternal 12-year-old. I remember one time I got very mad at you, when you went boating with a bunch of people. I said, “Dad, why are you doing this? You understand you’re high-risk, right?”

Advertisement

Cory: And I told you, “It’s just the people who are already hanging out at the house all the time. I’m not exposing myself to any new people.”

Taylor: And I countered with, “But do you know who they’ve been around, or what their work situation is like?” Some of our biggest fights are about your foster daughters bringing over their friends. Over the summer, one of them had a party and they were playing beer pong on your table, Dad.

Advertisement

Cory: I try to tell you, it’s like they’re extended family. It’s always the same people I’m around. Just my foster kids and their friends. However, it turns out some of them have had COVID. I have been exposed to it. I’m pretty sure I had it. I got a fever and lost my sense of taste. And I tried to get tested, but it was so hard to get tested back then.

Advertisement

Taylor: Remember that one time I was at your house, and then a week later you told me you’d had COVID symptoms? Because I do.

Cory: I wasn’t trying to hide it.

Taylor: You didn’t even call to tell me. We were having a conversation and you brought it up. And then I’m like, oh my God, I need to go get tested, I need to get my husband tested. I had seen my brother, and my brother and sister-in-law were isolating because my sister-in-law’s mother is a very, very high-risk individual with COPD.

Cory: I was just kind of absent-minded. I didn’t think about it at the time.

Advertisement

Taylor: You are very much an “eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die” kind of person. Whereas I’m, like, you know, let’s not put ourselves at risk.

Advertisement

Cory: I’m not that wild.

Taylor: Dad.

Cory: I don’t drink that often—

Taylor: Dad. I am not going to have this conversation right now. You are a party person. I feel like a parent all the time. Especially this year, I’ve wished you were a little more cognizant of your mortality. I understand you’re not going to change too much, but I am still going to try.

Cory: There are so many things this year that I didn’t do that I would’ve done normally. I have friends who are in a band, I’d been planning to help them do their shows, you know, hang out backstage. Going to concerts … I miss all that.

Advertisement

I don’t want you to be worried. I try to comfort you by letting you know I’m being safe in my own—in a different way. I thought, you know, once you found out I probably had COVID and didn’t get too sick from it, you wouldn’t worry so much.

Taylor: I am still concerned you’re going to have long-term symptoms. And there are all the new variants.

Cory: I was supposed to start dating this year, and that never happened.

Advertisement

Taylor: Oh my God. That’s a whole other cans of worms. You won’t take any of my suggestions. You’re on Tinder, but I think you need to join some outdoor hiking groups and meet people who have your energy level.

Advertisement

Cory: Yeah, that’s the problem. People my age don’t have the energy level I have.

Taylor: I think you would be so much happier if you had someone to spend time with.

Cory: You worry all the time about other people. It was even your idea on Valentine’s Day to send flowers to your grandma. I never thought to do anything for my mom. I love that about you.

Taylor: As much as it bothers me sometimes, I do love your spontaneity. I love being able to call you up at like 4 a.m. on a Saturday and ask if you want to go stargazing, because 80 percent of the time, the answer is, “Yes, where do you want to go?” And I love how I can literally have a conversation with you about anything, from politics in Central and South America to quantum gravity, to protein folding, and everything in between.

Cory: I also love that you listen to me ramble on about physics and subatomic particles.

Taylor: In some ways your sense of adventure has been a bright spot for me during the pandemic. And then sometimes it’s like, “Oh no. I’ve got to go get tested for COVID.”

Advertisement