Card I made to go with the present.
Today was my roommate's fiancée's bridal shower. A very lovely, pleasant, delightful event. Lovely, pleasant, delightful food. Lovely, pleasant, delightful people. Totally normal and uneventful. In a good way.
I got home from it and, instead of enjoying a nice glass of white wine with her and her family, crept into my bed and cried softly to myself until I started to hiccup and had to tell myself to stop acting like a baby. Oh god what a day. I can't remember the last time I cried like that. But maybe I needed it...
This morning Bubs and I were supposed to go through some of the "less emotional" areas, list out the various categories of items, and specify what the organizers were to do with those items when they come next week.
Of course there is no such thing as a "less emotional" area. Silly us.
I flipped out on my mother a little bit about halfway through the morning. I can't remember what set me off - probably my mother crying over cloth napkins and place mats we uncovered that she hadn't seen or used in 25 years. It is frustrating when it takes half an hour to decide whether or not to keep the dance costumes that no longer fit any of the girls who are now women who don't want them themselves. It is annoying when even the dumbest things, like empty cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, plastic containers, etc are being saved in massive quantities for potential uses which will likely not be warranted.
Ok I do remember what it was.
I started putting stuff back into the linen closet after we had sorted it because the knee-high piles were preventing people from safely using the hall to the bedrooms. On her way upstairs with Bubs to start going through some stuff up there, my mom called down, saying it was a waste of effort to put it back into the closet if we were just going to be paying someone to take it back out. I said it was just better to put it away, got kind of annoyed, but stopped doing it. She went upstairs and I could hear her crying, that sad, sickening sound of my own mother's agony over things that most grown adults don't think twice about.
I shouted something like "YOU CAN'T EVEN WALK THROUGH THE HALLWAY LIKE THIS." Knowing I was going to say even more hurtful things, I removed myself from the situation, but like the mature woman I am, made sure to close the front door a little extra hard. So everyone would know I was MAD.
Down the steps I went, past my dad who was stirring up puffs of dandelion seeds with the lawnmower, fuming my way up the street. I heard the mower engine stop. Heard the car starting up. I kept going. I got halfway up the hill and found a low wall on our neighbor's property, along with a single yellow dandelion, which I plucked from their yard and began to dismantle. I was sitting on the wall stewing when my dad pulled up a few moments later... still wearing his lawn mowing gear: face mask and protective earphones, curly white hairs poking out from his arm braces. Everything okay? he asks.
Yeah I say, looking up for only a second, because my eyes are burning. I didn't want to say anything mean.
I continue to mash at the dandelion.
Thanks for doing this, he says. Earphones, face mask still on.
I nod slightly, don't look up, keep mutilating the yellow flower in my hand.
After a pause, I'm going to go back to mowing the lawn now. He rolls up the window and I hear the engine fade away. He drives around the block and I finish the flower off by pinching its head with a pop, lie back in that pillowy grass thinking UGHHHHHHHHH to myself. Somebody is using a leaf blower just out of sight. Two neighbors are having a friendly chat. I hear the car door open and close in our driveway again. The lawnmower starts up.
I go back into the house, I apologize, we finish going through the rest of the rooms...
My mom drops me off at the train station with the last box of my own stuff I will ever remove from my family's home: high school and college diplomas, a couple pieces of my own artwork, some field hockey trophies. I remember that I have to get a gift for the shower. Stop by Crate and Barrel. The only thing on the registry that seemed appropriate was a spice rack, which apparently weighs the same amount as the box of memorabilia I'm carrying (i.e. quite a bit).
I walk half a mile along the sidewalk toward my apartment, with what is apparently some sort of anguished grimace on my face, because, when I take a break to rest the box and bag on a brick wall, a kindly-looking gentleman says Yes, good, you look like you need that, you should rest there for twenty minutes (sympathetic chuckle).
No it's ok I'm only a block from my house, I gesture up the street.
He smiles and continues past me, then hesitates, You're going up the street this way? Would you like to put that stuff in the back of my station wagon? he asks.
I pause, realize that yes yes I would, I don't care what I have learned about strangers, I don't think I can carry it any further. So I tell him I would like that, if he is headed that way anyway.
A feeble black dacschund barks twice at me from a towel on the front seat. Don't mind him. He's seventeen years old and can't see strangers. The man gathers the towel and dog onto his lap and lets me into the passenger seat. We drive the one block - not very far, in a car, apparently. His name is Robert. We chat a bit, he jokes that the station wagon makes him very popular among friends with things to carry. I laugh a bit. Mention we are thinking of having a block party, wouldn't that be nice?
He helps me unload the stuff, I thank him. He drives off with the little doggie.
I take advil and a long hot shower, blow dry my hair, wrap the present, make a little card...
So. After the party, fiancée's family - mom and grandma - and my roommate and his brother are in the other room. I can hear them laughing and chattering. So pleasant. No ugly piles of weird useless stuff. No mothers sobbing over eleven used field hockey sticks that none of her girls actually played with which she now must part with.
I am jealous and sad. Why can't my family be normal? I wonder. I think of how I have behaved earlier this morning. Ashamed. How much I know my parents love me. I feel super guilty thinking that, wishing they could be different. But I am jealous of how everything in a lot of other people's lives seems so effortless, how they don't have such ridiculous things to have to deal with, how they know all the ways to behave in different situations because they had normal adults around them to model that behavior for them. I envy this nice normal family in my living room, I am tired, I feel lost, a lot alone, like there is nobody but me to keep the pieces together.
I cry and cry and cry. I can't seem to stop!
I remember letters I came across another time I brought a box home from my parents'. I had gone to sleep-away camp for one week in the early spring of fifth grade. My entire family wrote to me.
I love you so much, my dad writes, after describing the growth he'd noticed in the various areas of my life - dance, basketball, faith/spirituality. I'll cherish your childhood memories. I look forward to the next stage of your life. Love, Dad.
My mom's letters read more like a play-by-play of every moment of the day. Now it's Monday morning (11:00 AM) and we are waiting at the pharmacy for a prescription for an antibiotic for [Nipper] - one ear has an infection (again) and she will need to take a different medication for 10 days. This explains somewhat how cranky she's been the last few days... etc etc etc............. I hope the bus ride was fun. Is there much snow? How are the meals? Is the bunk comfy? I love you - we love you. Have fun. Stay warm. Love, Mom.
The letters from the other kids reflect their age and level of fine motor skill development. There is an entire page of scribbles which is apparently a portrait Nipper drew of herself "eating butter." She used to pull a chair over and sneak up onto the counter top to eat the butter straight from the dish. We'd find little tiny finger-shaped swipes out of the softened stick of butter. No joke.
Nipper eating butter..
Ok I don't hate my family. Just frustrated.
Let's not fool ourselves. There's no such thing as "normal." But there is "healthy," and we're all trying our damndest to get there.
Yep. We are.