Tuesday, April 14, 2009
THE SON ALSO RISES
My son Ethan spends alot of time asking me about my nuclear family. He seems particularly interested in my parent's marriage. I find this interesting and alarming at the same time. I'm pleased that he's developed an interest in his family, but frightened that his curiosity has been piqued by my parent's bilious marriage. Like a beautifully wrapped Christmas present with nothing inside - my parent's union on the surface appeared shiny and tantalizing, but below the glittering shell existed an emotional frozen tundra. To my eyes, my parents always seemed a bit out of sorts - my mother acted like my father's faithful servant, constantly striving for his approval and affection yet seldom receiving it. Like any under-appreciated employee who receives little compensation for their life's work, my mother vented her frustration and unhappiness on those weaker than herself, her children.
Unlike my son Ethan's privileged, candy-colored childhood that consists of Palm Springs weekend homes, attendance at a prestigious charter school founded by his two dads, participation in a plethora of seemingly compulsory 'enrichment' activities, and basking in the glow of never-ending parental love and support, my own childhood was not a happy one. The kindest emotion I can remember from either my mother or father growing up was indifference. When I was 8 years old - I made the important decision to run away from home and take up residence at the Cherry Hill Mall. Granted, not a good plan - but a plan nonetheless. I must have looked odd, an eight year old child perusing the fine linens and silver clutching a small red suitcase. As I pretended to shop, a kindly Gimbel's saleslady (remember them?) asked me where my mommy was - I replied she had been in a tragic car accident and was in a persistent vegetative state. There were no 'Amber Alerts' in those days so the saleslady told me how sorry she was and assured me that either my mommy would get better soon or my dad would probably remarry and I would have a new mommy who wasn't in a coma. I shuddered at the thought.
The shopping mall closed promptly at 9, and with no place to go, suitcase in hand, I reluctantly trudged home tired and hungry. I snuck in the house through the garage and silently joined my mother who at the time was sitting in a our family room ferociously knitting and watching Donny and Marie. As I entered the room, she glanced up as if surprised to see me. She seemed to take no notice of the suitcase.
"Well?" She asked.
"Again? We just had dinner."
I had been gone for eight hours and not a single member of my family noticed. Clearly, the police had not been called. There were no worried detectives scouring our backyard searching for obscure clues or relentlessly questioning the coterie of suspicious, shady neighbors that lived in our neighborhood's manicured homes. Light years from worried, my mother hadn't even noticed my absence.
"Sit down," she said wearily, "I'll make you a sandwich - I don't want you messing up the kitchen."
(To be Continued)