Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Clearing the Way

I have been wanting to write something fictional for some time now; something whimsical and fantastic. In part to stretch my imagination and writing skills, but mostly because I am sick of writing about my life. Unfortunately, be it the time of year or... who am I kidding, it's the time of year, it's always this time of year- October 3rd to be exact, I can't shake a certain story from my head. For a long time I have avoided it, perhaps because seeing it in black [blue] and white might make it more real. The fact stands, however, that it is real. It has been real for seven years. Therefore, perhaps fleshing it out will give it legs and it will walk away tarrying in my conscience no longer. Consider this your due warning to the melancholy, over-dramatic material to follow. Don't worry, I usually get better after October 3rd.


My sister said she wished they'd done it sooner. I remember her saying it. I remember we were in the full bathroom and I remember I was furious. I must have been a freshman or sophomore in college by then, which means my parents would have officially been divorced for at least one or two years. Even though I was nearing the age at which they had exchanged their vows, I couldn't understand why my sister wished that our family had fallen apart sooner. Of course, she was older than me and saw things from a much less naive point of view. Well, that, and she'd had seven more years hearing them fight than I had.

Now, seven years from the divorce, I now look back with more seasoned eyes and wonder-- Why did they stay together for so long? Was it because of me? I had always known that my parents were separated when my mom found out she was pregnant with me and then they got back together. That knowledge made me feel special, like my birth had saved their marriage. Now I wonder if my birth simply brought 17 years of unnecessary heartache to the people I love most. I think of my nephew, who will turn eight this month and has never met his father-- heck, he's only received two attempts of communication from him at all in the past seven and a half years.

And I wonder, did my parents' conservative 50's-style, duty-based, Catholic upbringing keep them together for the sake of the kids? Did my sister start doing worse in school not because of my presence (and natural genius) but due to the horrible home life I was too young and naive to comprehend? Did she rebel so much against them not because of youth's impropriety but because she had seen the malcontent bred by their institution and was kicking with all her might against conformity to its mediocrity? I always knew my sister was smarter than her grades suggested; perhaps now I have a better understanding why.

I picture my dad storming out of the house and hear the thickness of his silence for weeks on end. I picture my mom crouched and trembling on the back stoop afraid of what the morning might bring. I picture my sister running away again and again and again. I wonder if these pictures were painted with the brush of my own childish selfishness. Then I picture my parents slowly dancing in the kitchen to music only they can hear and I am brought back to the reality that I am not the pivot on which their inaudible record spun~ I am a recurring and evolving theme throughout the soundtracks of their lives. Only in my own soundtrack can I be the main melody to which all other tunes relate in tension or resolution. That's good, I'd rather sing background vocals any way.