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I grew up in a more or less happy home. We had a dog, both my parents worked, I had an older brother and a younger sister. The house we lived in before we moved was nothing of enormous grandeur, and even after we moved, we weren't in anything with a superfluous amount of space. We had enough and we spent our money on summer vacations. I was well traveled and an experienced packer by ten or eleven. Airplanes were my stomping ground. The suitcase was my weapon.
Thinking back on it now, I remember very little of my parents couples counseling. It was a fairly large building (though I suppose everything is to a ten year old) plain in color and decor. Some faux plants in corners and monochromatic paintings on the walls, the kind they use in motel rooms by painters that really never make it all that far in the art world. I couldn't tell you if there was a reception area or even if the parking lot was rectangular. My sister and I would be ushered in and seated in front of the TV that played Disney VHS tapes, in a kids area. I assume they had other things in there, coloring books or magazines, but I didn't use any of those other sources of entertainment. Cartoons fascinated me.
I truly couldn't even tell you how often we went there. My mind has a habit of drawing time out, to make me recount actions I thought took a month when in reality occurred in a single day.
I don't know if we went only the once or multiple times. I do remember, however, being in the back seat of our Tahoe, watching my mother unload that big ugly red bag, riveted like snake skin, and drop it in her car.
I know my dad argued with her, and they quarreled in the parking lot with faith and I in the back seat. When it was said and done my mother left, and my dad was left to explain to us that she'd be gone for the night. Just a night.
I know now it wasn't as simple as that. She wanted to be gone. She hadn't wanted to return. I wonder sometimes if, given the chance, she'd have taken off and left this life behind. Not out of malice, not because of cowardice, but because that seems to be a running theme here at 17: figuring out where you want your life to go.
And quite frankly, it seems relatively easy to get sucked into a life you don't want.
I would never wish for that to happen. I don’t want it to happen to me and I don’t want it to happen for my sister and I don’t want it to happen for my mother. I know that she was the wrong that killed the legal marriage in our house. She cheated, she was unfaithful, yeah whatever.
However, I don't think it was her that killed the emotional matrimony in our house.
If I could sit down with her and have a real conversation, if I could sit down and not be her daughter and not be caught in the middle of everything, the divorce, the fighting, the death of an era essentially, I’d want to ask her something. A few somethings.
When did your love for Dad stop?
On what occasion did he make you feel inferior?
What did he do that made you stop loving him? Was it anything? Or did it just happen? Can love really just fade in and out like that? Is that how love works?
And of course I want to know what she loved about him that made her stay. Because yes, they went to couples counseling. But they didn’t get divorced for close to eight years later.
So what about Dad did you love enough to stay that extra decade?
But as her daughter I’ll never get to ask these questions. I don’t know if she knows I remember their first real rough patch when I was ten, when the world stilled used VHS for entertainment and when she had that ugly red bag. Mom, you remember Faith and I in the back of the Tahoe that day?
And that’s just another question I’ll never have the answer to.