Rose Parade

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Conversations with my sister

We finally hooked up via phone. This is momentus because we haven't spoken in a good ten years plus - hell, maybe it's fifteen years at this point - and up until about a week ago I had zero interest in rectifying that little situation, in spite of the resented increasing pressure I felt to do just that. Which made me the bad guy, which pissed me off bigtime, because I never deserved that. I wasn't the one who fucked up, who made the bed and now had to lie in it. I mean, it's not like I'm fabulous and can therefore bag on other people, but on the other hand I've always played by the rules and tried not to be a burden to anyone. Unlike some people. Historically, she was the emaciated druggie who always found someone to live off of, I was the fat responsible one who subjected myself to the drudgery of office life that made me sorta independent (after many, too many fucking years) but also frequently made me feel like it wouldn't be the worst thing that ever happened to me if I just didn't wake up one morning. Today she told me that for years, she had the same passive approach to getting the hell out of this life - that she couldn't actually bring herself to doing actually anything about it, but hoped that circumstances would take care of things. As a druggie, her odds were pretty good and it has always amazed me (and a few other people) that she survived as long as it took her to finally embrace a drug-free existence. In a way, it's something we freakishly (and I must admit, unexpectedly) have in common. I hang in there in the hope that someday the stars will align and let me have a creative life that I can actually love and feel like I have some sort of control over, oh and if we could throw in another horse I'd feel like I'd hit the lottery. The big multi-state one. Not sure what Lisa's exact incentive was all these years. Odd that we had something in common, however pathetic, when we could not be more different. No one is more surprised than me. The strangest thing about the reunification of our family isn't even Lisa and I having a friendly, really kind of lively chat, it's the fact that our parents, divorced nearly forty years (and not amicably) have suddenly become new bestest buddies. When Lisa and I were kids they had no choice but to deal with each other and it was always tense at best. Once we were legal they were able to go their unfriendly separate ways. Now, they're on the phone for hours at a time, like freaking teenagers. My dad admitted to me that my mom is one of the funniest people he knows (I knew that and told him so). Lisa says he giggles when he's on the phone with my mom. I don't know that I've ever actually heard my dad giggle. He's just not the giggling type. Self-made, madly successful, now retired businessman yes. Giggling on the phone? Just no. It's just weird, and in a way, absolutely hysterical. I would have always bet everything I ever owned against it happening. The holidays are going to be bizarre beyond words this year. Even stranger is the idea that I'm actually not dreading it. Much. It's just so freaking surreal, because you see, a dysfunctional family I can handle. My parents split when I was five, so it's what I'm used to, it's how I grew up. No matter how much I've always hated the parts of the conversations that inevitably included, "don't mention this to your dad" and "don't repeat this to your mother". Because, yeah, I'm all about being stuck in the middle of someone else's crap. It was never pleasant and I can't help believing that our family history of crappy marriages, divorces, a broken engagement and an annulment isn't just a little bit responsible for my lifelong lack of interest in relationships, much less getting married. The fact that I'm anti-social by nature certainly couldn't have helped. But hell, my very sociable brother (the lovely spawn of my mom's equally crappy - just longer lived - second marriage) is still single at 36, and people, he is a catch. So it's not just me. Kind of. I guess. Funny thing, in a way growing up in my splintered family was like being married in a certain way: all the holidays had to be split between his family and her family as equally as possible, so that no one was left out and there were no hard feelings. Odd, I've never thought about it this way until now. I wonder if that contributes to my zero interest in the idea of being married. Back to the big phone reunion: A constant in our re-connecting conversation today was how it repeatedly circled back to what I think of as "recovery-speak". How Lisa came to the decision that she wanted to live an actual life and not be a functional or otherwise drug user. All the great people she has met in recovery, how she realizes as a user she was selfish and only thought of herself, and when she did think of anyone else it was in terms of how they could be of use to her. How even now she's thinking about the mom and dad big reunion in terms of how it could affect her, might bother or upset her if things go south. "Me Me Me", and she knows she's doing it, she said as much. I think it's a recovery thing, but as long as she can recognize and acknowledge it then it's okay. She knows she's doing it. And you know, whatever works, especially where keeping someone off the hard stuff is concerned. Everybody has their own personal selfishness. God knows I have and want more of mine. Not that it gives anyone of us carte blanche. But really, family wise, the whole thing is just bizarre. And I have a feeling it will get even moreso in August when mom heads for the Hawaiian Islands to visit. Oh the phone calls I'm gonna get. Oh the unbelievable weirdness...