Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hi. Just like last time I posted, I'm not dying to write something long and interesting at the moment. But I need to take a minute to say something. Over the Thanksgiving holiday that just ended, I was at home with my Mom, and we began talking about a fucked up episode in my childhood, in which my Mom behaved very irresponsibly, basically destroying her marriage and scarring me for life. (That sentence is meant to be a tad tongue in cheek, but it's basically true.) In this conversation, she proposed that we try to do some "work" on this -- i.e., we consider doing therapy together, or making a point of talking it out between the two of us, etc. She asked me (and she's actually asked me this before) if there's anything I'd like to say to her about that episode, and honestly, I couldn't really think of anything.

But I resolved to try to do some thinking, privately, about it. And the best way I could think of to go about that was to write about it. So I'm sort of introducing that project here.

Interestingly, my very inclination right now is to say "okay, my job's done here -- I 'introduced the project,' I'll actually do the writing later." I suspect that that is of a piece with the fact that I couldn't really think of anything to say to my Mom, and the fact that I have only very cloudy memories of my parents' break-up, despite the fact that it happened when I was 16. I.e., I really don't want to think about this much. I don't want to force it here, but maybe I'll try to write a little.

Maybe I'll just tell the story. Here goes. I might not finish this in this post, but I'll pick it up later.

When I was 10, my mother started having an affair. She had her affair with a woman -- somewhat shocking to a little boy who'd only known his mother to ever love his father -- and, in fact, a woman who was quite a bit older than her. In fact, this woman (we'll call her Blanche) had been my mother's high school math teacher. Further, she and my mother had had a sexual relationship when my mother was her student. Okay, so you get an idea of the sort of person Blanche was. She was the sort of person who'd molest -- is that fair to say? I'm not sure -- a 15-year-old girl who trusted and respected her. And, as we found out, she was the type of person who'd take advantage of that same girl, now 40 years old, who had never dealt with that undoubtedly insane childhood experience and was now struggling with a very unhappy marriage. Let me just say now, I hate Blanche.

Anyway, so my mother has this affair with Blanche. My brother and I didn't know this was going on, until my Mom took us to live with Blanche for the summer. Once we were there, well, frankly, I heard them having sex. They didn't, like, kiss in front of us or anything, but I knew enough to know what I was hearing. It still turns my stomach to think about it. (But is that just because it's yucky to think of your mother having sex? Probably.) So there I was, a 10-year-old boy, living in a house with his mother and her lover, while my father was 3,000 miles away in the only home I'd ever known before that point. It was horrible, or at least I think so. Don't remember it that well. I do remember just wishing so much that I could be home with my father, and I remember really hating Blanche.

I guess that's the whole story. We lived there for the summer, and then went back home and back to school. We went out there again the following summer, and did it all over again. I hated it just as much that time. Went back home and back to school, and then never went back there again. But I do remember my mom talking to Blanche on the phone after that, and I'd always know that's who she was talking to because she got this really soft tone in her voice -- I never knew whether she was being seductive or just trying to keep me and my father and brother from hearing her, but either way it was not good. Meanwhile, my father had an affair -- basically in response to my Mom's. He wasn't as overt about it, but I remember thinking he might be having an affair, or something along those lines -- I knew he had a friend, we'll call her Mona, and I just remember suspecting it was romantic. All very fucking sordid.

Then, things seemed to me to go back to normal. And suddenly, five or six years later, my Dad announced he was moving out.

Well, that's really the whole story. I don't have any great insight from writing this. I knew I'd have to revisit it multiple times. But yeah. I don't want to. I'm grossed out. And you know, honestly, I don't want to be mad at my Mom. I don't want to dredge up anger with her that I'd let settle over the years. My relationship with her is at a good place right now, and I'd rather not fuck that up. But I guess it's probably important, right? I don't know, I just can't really imagine talking to her on the phone about this, telling her "yeah, I was just remembering how bad it made me feel to hear you talking to Blanche, because your voice always took on this seductive quality, and I hated it so much." I mean, that's my Mom, I can't make her cry! (And she would inevitably cry, even though she told me "it's not like I couldn't stand to hear what you have to say.") That's part of my problem, though. I just can't stand to hurt her. I want every phone call to end with me saying, "...and that's why I'm doing great and you don't have to worry about me at all. Boy it was good talking to you!" Oy vey. I don't know. Blech.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I don't really have the time or inclination to write a long post right now. Not sure why that is -- it's part of the natural cycle, I guess, of my blogging life. I'm sure in about two years I'll pick it up again, probably with some new focus, and do it steadily for a few weeks before getting bored of it all over. But anyway, I've just been reading over the content here, and I feel I need to say something.

W and I have been in our new city, living in that gigantic rental I was talking about, for about six months now. And as a general rule, we've been extraordinarily happy. That's basically all I wanted to say -- I read some of my old posts and I can see that there were some very, very, VERY dark times not that long ago. I just want to officially note that those dark times aren't all there is to our life. We've been happy as hell lately. (Of course, for the sake of completeness, I should note that we've had our worries too -- the biggest ones being, "okay, I guess we need to start looking to buy a house again," and "okay, are we going to have kids or what?" I'm sure I'll blog about those sometime soon, unless I have in fact given up blogging for good. But I don't want to dilute the force of my point here, that overall we've been happy.)

A couple specific things I should note: we love our house and neighborhood. We've gotten very friendly with a number of the people on our block, and we've been making a point of being social and getting out of the house. And some of these people really are a lot of fun, and really seem to appreciate us and our perspective on things. And we've been really loving each other lately, and appreciating every moment we have together.

I guess writing this post is pointing up something that everyone knows, which is that pain and darkness are much more interesting than happiness and light. This post isn't as interesting as those older ones. It's kind of boring, frankly. I mean, it's just hard to go on and on about how happy you are. I guess that's because happiness is, in its pure form, a very simple emotion? If you had more to say, it would be because there was something complicating the happiness, maybe? I'm not sure, honestly. This is another of those things I've wondered about for a long time. I remember, back when we were kids, W asking me, "why does it feel like sadness is infinite, and moments of happiness are fleeting?" Somehow I think that's connected to this point, but I'm not sure why.

But, I mean, everyone knows this. Sadness has depth to it; happiness is shallow. That's not a flip judgment on people -- like, people who are happy are shallow -- I really mean it, about the emotions themselves. Happiness is just happiness! Sadness is grief, and sorrow, and jealousy, and insecurity, and a neverending morass of conflicting and complicated emotions, one leading to the other, for ever.

It's so odd, though. Happiness is more than "just happiness," isn't it? Isn't it contentment, and elation, and satisfaction, and on and on, right? And yet you always feel that there's some sadness lurking in the background. I think I told W, back when we talked about this, that sadness is an emotion you have to "deal with." But happiness, you just let it be. And what this means is, when there's happiness and sadness in a moment, it's the sadness that demands your attention, your concentration; so you feel that, while there's some happiness there, you're going to have to deal with that sadness. This is why it's so hard to ignore sadness, and why sadness is always lurking there -- if you had to "deal with" happiness, you wouldn't be able to forget about it either.

So is there a lesson here? Probably -- if you could come up with a way to require yourself to deal with happiness, without turning it into something negative, maybe you'd be a happier person. Yes, but... part of what's good about happiness is that you don't have to deal with it, isn't it?