My story. It’s not one of dramatics or climactic events. It’s the story of simplicity and a rather stereotypical suburban home life. My dad- a truck driver. Long ass hair, high blood pressure, and a lack of communication skills. His Camaro sits in the garage collecting dust as does his dream of a professional racing career. A tough exterior but a sad interior. A firm hatred of drunk drivers and the idea of giving up. Heavy metal enthusiast and kool-aid drinker. He’s a simple man who had the world at his fingertips with the Friday night lights turned on. But when they turned off, so did a little bit of his happiness. Newspaper clippings are what remain of a life my dad once loved. Now, he drives cross country weeks at a time to hide the sadness and avoid the three mouths he has to feed.
My mom- a stay at home caretaker who dreams of a career. The same hair and makeup since ’87. Her comfort level is where she lives and where she plans on staying for the rest of her life. This comfort level is one of laundry on Saturday mornings and taking the dog on a walk. A life of regret and complacency. The loss of an unborn son consumes her sadness and even her laughter is hesitant. She hides her fear of living her life to the fullest by making crafts and a cozy house. She excels at masking her tears with a veil of strength. A desire for independence but a housewife status that limits her freedom. A past that was taken too fast by her future. A future of mothering and protecting herself and her daughters from the mistakes she made and her own unhappiness.
My story started with two individuals who were unprepared for the stubborn ass that the stork dropped off. It started with two people who were unaware that their past regrets meant nothing to me. It was their unconditional respect, empowerment, discipline, and love that made me who I am. Amongst all that, was a place I called home. A place where unpleasant thoughts and happenings were brushed under the rug that I wiped my feet on everyday after school. A place where tears are shed behind closed doors and parents fighting could be heard through the vents that led to the basement. Secrecy is common. A place where dad still doesn’t know about STDs and Mary Jane. Home is a place with past pets buried in the backyard and prayers are said before home style funerals. A place where fish are flushed down the toilet and never spoken of again.
Home is a place of a once inspirational Uncle whose past of drugs and alcohol haunted him as he fathered me. An uncle who came to every basketball game, taught me the word fuck and that the best brownies have nuts in them. An uncle who would rather inject white powder and hang a noose in the bathroom than attend his daughter’s high school graduation. An uncle who fought the demons for too long and fell victim to the devil’s power once again. A role model who fell short but whose scent of Dr. Pepper and Camel reds is engraved in my sensory memory.
Home is a place with a half drug addict, half prostitute aunt who was one hundred percent absentee. An aunt we drove by on the street corner as she begged for money. An aunt who would rather swallow STD’s than her own pride. An aunt in only one Christmas picture.
Home is a place of a sarcastic Grandpa who sat on the blue chair and rocked the combover. A grandpa with a blue rain jacket and the cologne ordered from Avon. A grandpa who said trampolines were too dangerous but basketball was a girl sport. A grandpa who I knew as Pete but who everyone else called Jerry. I still am unsure of which his real name is although I know there were two parts of within the strength of that man. A part that would rather tell his granddaughter that a shingle fell off a roof and hit him than admit he has a virus. And a side who slips from this world with such grace, I know he is still here somehow, somewhere in Blackhawk.
Home is a place where Grandma has only been known through photos and Christmas cookie recipes.
Home is a place where dad’s side of the family is only a myth that has been introduced by words like “assholes” and warnings “we don’t talk to them anymore.” A side with skeletons and memories never being created.
Home is a place of Girl Scout cookie sales, of birthday parties and croquet tournies on summer weekends. Home is a place of jumping on a snow covered trampoline and into a backyard standup pool. A place of sunscreen and popsicle breaks. A place of summer book reports and playing school in the basement. A place where family board game nights were weekly and physical activity was seemingly nonexistent. A place where staying busy is a lifestyle. Home is a place where the dining room table holds souvenirs of the life it is lived. with engraved safety pins and permanent glitter. A place where the pullout bed in the couch is where friends slept over and popcorn was lost forever. A place where riding down the street on my purple bike became unbelievably fulfilling as soon as I could turn the corner and around the block to the park. Home is a place of white Christmas lights and a Bah Humbug tshirt on. A place where Christmas day was split in two because a united family couldn’t be considered. But a Christmas day when my sister and I could count on matching gifts from Aunt Patti in Indiana. Those were the only two matching presents.
Home is a place where sister sisters could not be more different than one another. A sister who is beautiful and afraid. A sister who is analytical and intelligent beyond her years. A sister who once knew so much joy in playing dress up and drinking imaginary tea with a tiara on. A sister with a smile that resembled SpongeBob’s goofy ass buck teeth and long blonde hair braided each and every day. A sister who’s kind hearted and happy spirit was crushed by her sister’s competitiveness. Where her older sister’s basketball skills sparked a false recognition of what she had to offer the world. And rather than rising above the expectations held for her and creating her own-she fell short of them. And she deemed her self-worth from those failures. A sister who chose a life of complacency to match her mother’s fear of the world rather than making her own path. A sister who has adopted the habit of secrecy and pushing unpleasant thoughts but even more so, emotions under the rug. A sister who has a comfort zone smaller than her mom’s and one that may not ever be broken out of it. A sister who has followed suit of fear consuming her entire life. A sister I would die for.
Home is a place with a cousin. Her name is rarely used even with close friends because I simply don’t know her. I wish I did, she’s probably fucking awesome and could teach me the ways of this world. Like an older sister who lived in my basement but was never really part of the family. A black sheep. An orphan to a prostitute mom and overdosing dad. A cousin who was dealt unbelievably bullshit life cards and yet still puts on a persona of strength at annual meetings at the Thanksgiving table and around the Christmas tree. A cousin who I rarely recognize as a human being but a girl who I know is somehow blood related to me. A cousin I am determined to get to know better.
Home is a half sister. A lovechild of my dad and some Mexican woman. A girl who took part of my dad’s paycheck for eighteen years but who never showed her face. A half sister who is just another mystery-another strand of blood I will never know.
Home is memories of when dad’s paycheck took on us roadtrips to national landmarks of Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Home is hotel rooms with a bathtub because mom is luxurious and trips to Disneyland. Home is the white Tahoe with the backward seats so we could wave at those driving behind us. Home is getting sick on every one of those trips.
Home is a bun on the top of my head for seven straight years-frizzy ends popping out as I played kickball and freeze tag with the boys on the playground, leaving the girls to their small talk. Home is not wearing a uniform skirt until sixth grade. Home is a place of no math programs and a bald guy who clipped his fingernails while we took a test. Home is the family of 20 kindergarteners who grew into teenagers together. Home is wondering how they are all doing now.
Home is French toast on Saturday mornings before loading dad’s truck-another week long goodbye.
Home is being horrified of the face looking back at me in the mirror covered in welts, swollen red scars, and acne that consumed my every thought for years. Home is trying to erase that time of my life from memory, only a few photos left to represent the unhappiness that defined those years. Scars still remaining today.
Home is the carving of pumpkins on the kitchen floor every October-sometimes from the garden out back, sometimes store bought. Home is a Mother’s Day spent in the backyard planting flowers and laughing. Home is Christmas decorations going up after all the Thanksgiving dishes have been cleaned. Home is dad hanging the lights after a rock paper scissors game to determine who has to hold the ladder. Home is Bruce Springsteen and Slayer albums. Humming and head-banging. Home is a calendar in everyone’s Christmas pile. Home is a New Year’s Eve only lasting till 9’oclock. The innocent deception of a ball drop and two exhausted parents. Home is a fourth of July barbeque in the backyard and fireworks in the park. Home is holidays.
Home is beautiful. Home is flawed. Home is a place I would not trade for the world. Not the swamp cooler, the dog in the backyard, the deception and secrets. Home is a place that shaped who I am and helped me decide who I want to become. There is no place like home.