I’m not sure

27 07 2009

I had what you would call your average life growing up. At least, what I would call an average life growing up. Because, growing up, it was my life, and it was all I knew. I wouldn’t call my life sheltered. My parents took no great pains to keep me from the outside world; nor did they force any other way of life down my throat. Life just was. I guess you could say I took things for granted. Saying I was spoiled would be going too far. I was provided the essentials, I wanted for little, but there were limits and I certainly did not get everything I asked for – unless it was Sunday. Sunday’s were for Pop-Pop, the Toy Store and Denny’s Brunch. There was a 15 dollar limit; but at the time that was still big bones, but isn’t it the grandparents job to spoil the grandkids. And on really lucky weekends we spent the night, which meant “Everything Chicken” and ginger-ale in a sippy-cup instead of water on the night-stand. But that’s for later. There’s plenty of time to tell you about my grandparents. Things, growing up, just, were. And that was fine by me.

I know we started in a one-bedroom in a lesser part of South Florida. It wasn’t the hood, but it wasn’t anything grand. It was duplex and rental city. It was what my dad could afford on his start-up salary; especially when, a short year into marriage, my parents were surprised with me. My Mom was 25, Dad was 26. I don’t remember much of that time of life. I know two and a half years later my parents gave me a brother. I doubt I asked for one but they gave me him anyway. Growing up Z used to tease me that Mom and Dad were so disappointed with me that they tried for another kid. Mom told Z they were so happy with me they wanted another, but he exhausted them so much they stopped. Z always needed a lot of attention. I know that. I don’t really remember it, although I became aware of it, growing up. Dad worked his way up the ladder. He got us a house in a nicer part of town. Right near my childhood best friend, J. That’s my first memory. Walking down the hall into a room with clowns boarding the ceiling. I’m pretty sure it was Z’s because I hate clowns. Or maybe that’s why I hate clowns. But we were going to change him, so I think it was his room. And I remember the lawn outside of J’s house. Vaguely. To be honest I don’t know which memory is first. I wasn’t more than 4. But I remember.

Dad got depressed around the time Z was born. He was 29. I didn’t know that at the time. But that’s the next memory I have.  Mom said Dad had a surgery. At least I remember being told Dad had a surgery. And maybe he really did. Maybe he really did have his appendix taken out. He has the scar. But I remember Mom telling me dad was sick; I remember walking through the hospital, the whole sterile bright lights and that smell that is indigenous to hospitals and doctors offices (although I’ve learned psychiatrists and psychologists officers are excluded from this phenomenon). We had chocolate chip cookies. And we shared them with the old lady sharing the room. I was no more than 3 and a half. Like I said, first memories get jumbled around, and even as an adult I have issues with chronology, so who knows if this was before the clowns. But I remember the light being almost blue.

Sometimes, I wonder how much of my childhood I’ve made up. How many memories were dreams that I morphed into reality, and what the difference was. For years I believed that a trip to see Sesame Street live was just a dream until I found pictures capturing the moment, proving the reality. And yet, I remember being told we never went. So, did I dream that?

Shortly after the hospital stint I know we moved in with my grandparents. My Mom’s parents. Not because Dad fell so hard he could no longer support us, and Mom didn’t leave him. She stuck by him. And he worked hard; and pulled out of his depression. This would become a major impact on me in my later years, although I had no way of knowing that at 3 and a half. No, we stayed with them while we waited for the new house to be finished.

At four years old my parents gave me what every quintessential history book and American novel – what every Manifest Destiny type would tell you an American should half. We had a two story house on a tree-lined street, My parents had two kids, spaced two and a half years apart. We had a yard with a jungle gym. My parents had outrageously large sunglasses (this was the 80s, although the look came back in 2000 when I proudly boasted my own pair). We never had the picket fence – ours was concrete – but we did live in art deco Miami Beach and, really, a white picket fence was just too middle America for us. Oh, and we got the dog. That was another memory. I don’t remember picking her out. But I remember one Hanukah afternoon, or night, (did I mention we were Jewish?), we were told there would be no present. We would be picking out a dog. And I remember driving home with her sleeping on Mom’s lap with her head on mine. Mom remembers her throwing up. I don’t remember that part.

I was close with my parents. And as I grew up I had the normal teen-angst. And as I write I’ll get into that. But I was oddly close with my parents. Some of my friends were like that too, but my family – we had this weird bond. Much different than any other family I ever knew. I told my mom everything. So much so that a lot of my friends wouldn’t tell me things because they feared I would tell my mom. 99% of the time they were right.

The point of all this isn’t some Augusten-esque peek into some crazy family who plays electro-shock therapy with each other and has a masterbatorium. Really, my family probably isn’t that crazy. We’ve done stupid things and made mistakes. Some of which I can write about, some of which I won’t. But really, we’re pretty normal. At least when you compare us to those obese mothers who whore their kids out on stage in glitter and tiaras, living vicariously through their five-year olds – I believe TLC already has a documentary about them called Stage Parents. There is no insect or excessive abuse. Perhaps a touch of alcoholism and addiction but, the craziest sexual escape you’ll read about is in the back of a Ford Taurus with no A/C on the side of a dirt road in the middle of a Florida summer with a guy named Bishop with faded tattoos.

And It’s not supposed to just be some laundry-list of memories. But I will warn you. I’m just going to be writing. I’m not looking back. I’m not fixing things. If I do, I’ll stop. I know I will. It’s always what happens. I’ve already made a mistake because I went back to add this in. Maybe additions are ok. And maybe deleting things to protect others are ok. And whether this is all fact, or all fiction, or a mix of both, well I don’t know. Like I said, I’ve always had trouble telling memory from dream. And I’ve always had trouble remembering order. So if someone I know reads this. Don’t be offended. Don’t say “Hey that didn’t happen” or “It didn’t happen like that” or “That happened, but not then.” Think of this as a steam of consciousness. Just let this happen. We’ll call it an experiment. We can edit this when I get to 100,000 words. You keep count though, because I’m not going to. And don’t judge. I have no problem turning off comments if someone comes on here and judges. This is taking strength. People make a lot of enemies writing. And if that happens so be it. But I’m not strong enough to take on judgment yet. So I guess that’s my “blog” warning. Because I will post these as I write them. When I write them. When I feel strong enough to write them.  And remember. I’m not looking back. So I have no idea what I wrote.

I’m not writing this to turn into the next best seller. If it works out like that? Fantastic. What English major doesn’t dream of writing the next big seller. Well, not including those who take the BA to just get through school and have no idea what they want to do. Or those who fly through it to become teachers or lawyers. Or journalists. I guess there are a few who don’t dream of writing. But really, this is for me. To try and figure out where I went wrong and ended up the way I did. Or maybe not to figure out where I went wrong, because maybe nothing went wrong. Maybe this is just may way of healing. My way of being ok with where life took me. And my way of letting go to move forward. But whatever it is, it is. This is my therapy. OK, and if it turns into a novel, I will be fucking thrilled.