Family will make you believe you’re self-centered when all you really want is to be acknowledged and appreciated at some point.
It’s almost like abandonment. Like being told you’re going for ice cream and get left at the fire station for some strange family to come along and adopt you.
I grew up in families and in neighborhoods and in friendships that made it not so easy to share the stories I collected while away from them. They didn’t understand what was happening in the school houses they found hard to pronounce, and in the cities they’d only seen on television. Happy for me, yes, but refused to ask any questions about it out of fear that I was no longer one of them, or my answer would question their intelligence. It wouldn’t.
Abandon: cease to support or look after. I jumped in the car and drove away from my 43,000 people town, holding tight to everything I learned there, everyone I loved, and every place I knew. I held my hand out, not knowing most of those I was reaching for weren’t reaching back.
The first few years I came home excited to share everything, but before opening my mouth, my accomplishments and experiences were trumped with stories of cousins with new babies, new charges, new addictions, and new jobs at the hospital, and perhaps I should look into in case school didn’t quite work out. My stories didn’t seem so important then. We sat around and I listened to plans to get a care package and money together to send to a cousin locked up, wondering if they had these conversations about me, and if the care packages and money got lost on the way to Daytona. I stopped coming home with stories to tell. Just smiles, nods, and “I’m okay. Everything is cool.”
There’s nothing interesting about the kid who left. And no one would look after him. No one would support him.
I’m a writer above most other things. A few weeks ago a friend asked how I deal with the feelings of loneliness that inevitably attack. At this point it’s like that friend who comes around that has nothing positive to say about anything. You deal with it. But I supposed my ability to live with it as a writer came from my decisions to continue returning to shared couches with people who shoved loneliness up my nose.
There’s nothing special about the kid who did something different.
I share my success and failures with the world because there are people out there who understand. Because every so often I really just want a tight hug from a familiar person because I stayed up for three days to meet a deadline, letting a an important relationship die. People out there who, when I tell them a play I wrote won an amazing award and a photo I took was published in Vogue, won’t say “Oh,” then tell me about their neighbor who’s letting her boyfriend stay there even though he’s selling drugs and not on the lease.
Home is where we can share accomplishments and goals and dreams and be understood. This 43,000 people town is where I wash my clothes and get hugs from my mother when I need them.