Misanthropic Meanderings

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Location: California, United States

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mea Culpa

I dread this. It just looms on my conciousness, a giant, unavoidable horror. Every year I participate in a lie.

So there we are, two people forced by circumstance to inhabit these roles. We are not father and daughter. We are hardly aquaintances. For most of my life, "polite disinterested members of a household", was perhaps the barest whisper of correct. Words are far too pretty to convey the situation correctly.

He had married my mum, the official claimant. I was born to her, the prior claimant. I suppose one of us had to cling to her and attack the interloper. Odd how it turned out to be the adult acting childish. He broke my toys, he'd schedule family trips and not invite me, he'd not talk to me for days on end. Now it's funny, a big, grown man running back and forth, beating his chest over someone who couldn't understand what he was on about if you paid me. Back then it was distressing. I strove to be a better child. The amount of bible waving prayer intercessions over me, led by my mum and the other women of the family, to beg the Lord to...


Do something O Blessed Lord, so the big male crafted in thy image thou hast allowed our sister to marry may be appeased with this fallen child. Amen.

"Amen", I fervently agreed, being congenitally wrong is hard, "please just amen, if you love me Father"...

And so it went, until I went, aided by him taking the door off my room. Time to go, indeed.

Funny thing about being gone, it gives you different perspectives. I had never seriously considered that parents could be wrong. Or even seriously apeshit, goatraping crazy in that quiet way that never hits the papers but does make all the art. But I called, still. Always. I never called to talk to them as people, I just pose as *Daughter*so they can be *Mom & Dad*.

Pas de deux:
Yes, 2, 3, laugh, 2, 3, Uhhuh, 2, 3, Really, 2, 3 and then something banal about my life. repeat x 15. Bow, hang up.

On the phone, I know my stepfather more than I know my mother. He's more talkative than I ever thought possible for a sullen, angry stoneface. We both like politics and cold Red Stripe with hot patties. We love city excitement but pine about clear skies and country living. I can like him. There's just one thing stopping me from making this a story of warm cuddly, reconciliation. Nobody's ever asked for forgiveness. The past never happened and we were always a close happy family. We've raised denial to it's ultimate form.

They ask for pictures and want to come spend holidays. My skin crawls off my body and under a safe rock at that. Who are these people? Did I miss the rewrite of our history? My sainted grandmother apologized to me for the whole situation. It was a long million pounds of words in a roundabout islander way with 2 ounces of actual "I'm sorry", but it darn near knocked me out. But I'm not being asked to forgive, I'm expected to move from one reality to another and I find it harder and harder to pretend I can go along with it.

I panic each Parental Glorification Day, dreading phone call hell. I can't remember if this year I sent a dad's gift or a card or what did I do? Did I do anything? What do I say? It's always blank, like last year slipped down a crevasse or got tossed out in the trash. The major holidays have enough bullshit in them that I can force something out. But these days that celebrate the 'special parental bond'...pure torture.

Do I...say what I think? Demand a little acknowledgement of estrangement? Give in to my ideals of truth and justice?

I pick up the phone.
I think about all the times I chewed out my friends for whining about their very human, imperfect parents.
I think about the fact that I really, really wanted a set of my very own when I lived in Jamaica.
"Mom" and "Dad" weren't meant as cursewords.
I pick up the fucking phone.

And I lie. Word, tone and demeanor-all lies. For the good of two people I may not love, but I have compassion for. My choice and still I don't know if it's the right thing or not. There should be a moratorium on these days. Until family life can be a bit less fucked.


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