I spent three weeks at home reconnecting with my family. I, who has always valued family above friends, because one is constant, and the other comes and goes, respectively, had to reconnect with my family. It was always my friends who had “messed up families” and group therapy sessions, not me. I had dysfunctional friendships, but not a dysfunctional family.
It was a surreal feeling returning home after a year of absence. Even though I have lived across the country from my family for years, I have always returned home every 6 months for at least two weeks. It often feels like a double life, because I get to forget about my grandiose artistic career, and focus on smaller, community based responsibilities that I have been committed to for years in my hometown. But, I enjoy shedding one character for the other. The change infuses life into each version of myself.
During this homecoming, everything somehow seemed foreign yet familiar at the same time. Small changes like a new highway sign, or a new business popped out at me immediately as my Mom and I rode the highway towards my childhood home together, making small talk. I felt an overwhelming pressure suffocating me, and had goals to accomplish on my trip. After the hit and run accident, my family and I didn’t get along, to put it mildly. I felt rejected by them, and they felt extremely confused by my thoughts and emotions. I felt they treated me as if I had decided to become a drug-addicted prostitute, and when my mom came to save me, I told her to “fuck off.” Really, I think seeing me and my life so irrevocably damaged was just too overwhelming, and we coped by keeping one another at a distance.
We had many discussions, yelling matches, and explosions of emotions ricocheting off walls and out the windows for the neighbors to bear witness when I was home. While I found myself vindicated after a self-imposed trial in front of a few of my extended members of the family, my mom and I remained at a drastic impasse. We teetered on the painfully sharp edge of leaving each others life indefinitely. But in the midst of all this pain, all the unforgivable words that left me feeling hollow, as if she had reached inside me and pulled out my innards, the pounding of my own fists on my chest, until welts were raised as I begged for an open ear, something happened. It wasn’t a click really. It came about slowly, and unnoticed like a fog, but with clarity. Something changed between us. Despite everything, the common ground between us remained. We each thought the other did not want them in their lives. But we did. We do.
Adult relationships are so complicated, and I don’t think I have ever felt a more stark example of coming of age. My mom and I recommitted to a new relationship with one another. At first, she was hesitant, and dismissive, questioning why we should have to “fight” for our relationship, as I declared was necessary. I told her that I didn’t know why, but it was worth it. She is my mom, I am her only child. We are not simply two ships passing in the night, or two strangers who get to choose whether or not to be in one another’s life. We owe it to our past twenty five years of experiences, love and growth to stick it out, and find new, continuous ways to experience, love and grow together.
The ever-evolving, QuarterCentenarianAbroad