Friday, January 29, 2010

you wanted something more than this

My husband is in one room and he hears the water running but he thinks it's someone taking a shower. I am in another room, with my daughter, watching a Jersey Shore episode I have DVR'd and saved to watch with her when she comes home on the weekend from college. We cannot explain why we love that show--we just do. We laugh about their accents and their hair and the ridiculous tans they get from tanning beds when the beach sits right outside their front door. I hear water at one point, but it is raining outside and so I shake my head and tell myself it's just rain. More time passes and I hear the sound of water again and I think to myself that something is not right, that it sounds as though it is raining INSIDE the house. I walk out of the room and I turn towards the sound of the water and discover it is coming from the bathroom. The toilet has overflowed and flooded everywhere.

I start screaming OMG but then I shift into clean-up mode. I am good in a crisis. I panic initially for a number of seconds, but then you can count on me to find a way out of whatever mess I am in with quiet and cool. You want me on your side because I can make you believe everything will be ok, that I can fix anything. My husband is just the opposite. He can be counted on to help, but he cannot give up on his raging against whatever mess we are in. He screams and he rages and he does not get that nothing he says will change the fact that we simply need to shut up and deal with what's in front of us. He makes whatever mess we're in a thousand times worse just because he cannot keep his mouth shut.

We spend the afternoon wet vacuuming up the excess water and attempting to dry the carpets with big, industrial sized fans. The entire time we are dealing with this mess, my husband is screaming his lungs out about everything. How he is sick of living this way, how hard he works and how much he hates living with the insanity of toilets overflowing, etc., etc., etc. He can turn the smallest thing into the biggest problem and the biggest problem into something much worse without even trying. In my head I am plotting how I will leave him even though I know I will never go anywhere. It helps to pretend there is a place I can go when madness is all around me.

That evening, after cleaning up all the toilet water we've been knee deep in all day, we head off to see the play Annie downtown. It is still raining outside--the freezing kind of rain that makes you think the whole world is crying, and our parking space is two blocks from the theater. We do not have an umbrella because I forgot to bring one and if I don't remember everything, then nothing gets remembered. We are drenched and so very miserable. I am heartsick about everything, mostly about being stuck in a life that sometimes feels like a trap I can't find my way out of, but then Annie comes on stage and starts singing The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow and I feel my own heart start floating back into its proper place from where it fell inside me.

Sometimes I am amazed at the level of dysfunction I've created for myself without even knowing I was creating it. I own it all, even the crazy, because it's all part of who I am.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

the bearer of unconditional things

I know this is really strange, but every once in a while I go to my brother's flicker site and go through his pictures--a virtual stalker, if you will. I have two brothers who don't speak to me, who I have not seen in over 20 years. My one brother doesn't speak to me just because (really!). My other brother who doesn't speak to me, basically cut the whole family off and I was just collateral damage thrown into the mix because he severed ties with them. Even though I did nothing to him except love him, I got cut off, too. I've spent a lifetime trying to process this. I cannot tell you how it feels to be erased like that from someone's life because there are no words. I never talk about it to anyone because I don't know what to say. I know that a lot of my childhood years have been forgotten because of this.

I cannot remember so many things. My sister will ask me if I remember this or that and I have to tell her no. I try to remember, but I can't. I was literally erased from their lives, then I think my mind erased most things connected to them. I do remember my older brother being a know-it-all and I remember him playing the Elvis Costello song "Alison" over and over and over again. I remember this about my little brother: When he first started school, he cried and cried, and could not be consoled, so I would stand in line with him to take him to his class in the morning so that he would feel safe and stop all that crying. I have never been able to stand seeing little kids cry.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a trip down memory lane where I get all weepy over lost relationships because I'm at peace with my life at this point. What I wanted to write was that as I was going through my brother's Christmas flicker pictures, I noticed something weird. There were pictures of the inside of his house decorated for the holidays and what I noticed is that both my sister and my brother have almost 100% copied the way my parents furnish and decorate their home. They all have open beams on their ceilings. They have the same type of rug in the family room. Their kitchens are set up in identical ways. Their wooden tables all have a sheet of glass on top and a white doily runner between the wood and the glass. There are built in bookshelves in the family room of all their homes. Their fireplace mantles are adorned in similar fashions. When my parents started to collect a certain kind of expensive pottery, my sister went out and bought a ton of it herself. My mother has an extensive collection of Hummels and I noticed that my sister started collecting them as well. They all have the same type of curtains in the windows, too. Let me be clear, their homes are beautiful. But it's like this weird copycatville where they all seem compelled to be carbon copies of each other. I wonder what they think about when they visit each other. I'm guessing they think what good taste they all have since they all have the exact same taste.

I'm trying to figure out what this means because I think there has to be some reason why they both felt the need to replicate our parents home inside their own homes. I think it might have something to do with needing my parents approval and knowing that they would have it if they copied them. What else could it be? There's no hint of originality in either home that screams, THIS IS ME, I AM DIFFERENT FROM YOU.

I guess I just find it fascinating to know that there isn't anything in my home that resembles their homes. If I never moved away, I wonder if my home would mimic theirs. I wonder if I would reside in copycatville as well due to the pressure of living in the same area, or if I would have the courage to be the me that is different from them that I feel free to be because I am so far away.