So it Goes

Saturday, May 14th, 2011 08:38 pm
radiumgirl: (exploding angels)
[personal profile] radiumgirl
Disclaimer: I started writing this entry before I went to work this morning and I'm just now coming back to it after a marvelous shift spent laying on the floor of my supervisor's office while the nice EMT tried to get me to drink water and take my pants off. More on this later. In the meantime, forgive any disjointedness. I'm still semi-comatose. 
So Chrissy and I went to Rivers to blow off some steam  last night because she got into a fight with her boss at work and is probably going to get fired and I realized that my cousins only count me as "family" when they want to show me off at church, not when my uncle is in the hospital and the visiting hours policy is "family only."
I would say "fuck it" and just not speak to them unless spoken to from now on (which isn't so far from our current policy, actually) except that would be a very Melinda-esque thing to do and I really have no doubts that the uncle in question adores me and would have loved to see me. 
I'm so sick of the family drama though. I try so hard to ingratiate myself to my aunt and my cousins. I get alot of brownie points on virtue of whose kid I am. My dad was the second-born of seven kids, and he was the "hero", I guess, if we want to apply broad stereotypes to him and his siblings (which is appallingly easy, actually). He lied about his age and joined the Air Force when he was seventeen. He flew cargo planes in Vietnam.  I grew up to stories about his plane, nicknamed the Road Runner; how it was shot down, how Dad came home in a body cast, how he threw a bedpan at the doctor when he was told he might be in a wheelchair because of the shrapnel in his legs and hip. 

He wasn't. 

He married my mother, who was beautiful and not-on-parole at the time and he got a good job working on airplanes and "always took care of his family. Always. Always." my uncle says. 
Aka: he bailed their asses out of jail when they needed it, took their kids in when CFS took them away, and made sure his mother had heat in the winter because the rest of them were too busy polluting the gene pool to bother. 
And then he died. 
So, as the offspring of dear Saint Charles, my brother and I definitely get allowances and respect that I think other cousins don't. Even when I was little and he was still alive, we were always seen differently. There was never any doubt that we would go to college. Why? Because Charles said that we would.  We also lived in New Jersey for the first half of my life, and only saw the relations in the summer. We didn't have the thick Pittsburghese accent (yet). We had no interest in hunting, only marginal interest in fishing, and had no fear about taking a bus or a train somewhere and (GASP!) sitting next to a black person during the trip. Thus, we were vaguely exotic creatures. We were poked and prodded and gawked at and picked on, sure, but it was always friendly. We were still part of the fam. 
After Dad died, that sentiment seemed to evolve. My brother and I became these holy items, these relics. We are Charles' flesh and blood. Suddenly, we were scrutinized not for our alienness, but for our Charlesness. I have his chin. I have his nose. I have his hands. Chuck has the nose, the chin, the sense of humor. We both have his temper. These things became sacred. They were fawned over and encouraged and we were loved because we were Charles' children. 
This has been the case for almost ten years. But slowly, things have changed. I feel like another evolution of sentiment has happened right under my nose and that somewhere along the line, we because somewhat resented. Oh, we still have that diplomatic immunity that comes from being Saint Charles' spawn, but beneath that, there's this sense of obligation(?) towards us. We aren't precocious kids from that foreign realm of New Jersey, and we aren't these troubled pseudo-orphans anymore. We're adults in our own right. And rather than point out all those traits that we share with our late father, over the past year or so, I feel the attention has been shifted to the ways we "dishonor" him. 
My brother is now twenty-two years old. He still has zero interest in hunting and less of an interest in fishing, guns, or cars. This would almost label him a girl in our family, except that the women tend to be just as passionate about those things as the menfolk. My tattoos, my Catholic boyfriend, my impending move to Michigan; these are black spots on my pedigree. I am no longer this little four-year-old that hoards pennies in my change purse. I've struggled for awhile now, trying to reconcile who and what I am now with who and what I was and I think that my uncle and aunt and cousins are finally starting to do that too. 
I was shocked and hurt to basically be told not to come to the hospital. My aunt called me yesterday morning to tell me my uncle was being released today. I have a hard time talking to my aunt under the best of circumstances. She's a very rough, very practical, very traditional mountain woman. I once visited the fam after a job interview and I was in a suit and heels and black pantyhose and when I walked in the back door, she stopped kneeding the bread she was making, looked my get-up up and down, and said, "I wish your daddy was still around to explain you to us because I just don't know what to make of you."
Yesterday's phone call was more painful that usual due to the circumstances. She mentioned Michigan and said, "Its a shame how small this family keeps getting."
"I'm pretty sure that moving to Michigan doesn't rewrite my DNA."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm still in the family. After the move."
"Not really."
So going to the casino in hopes of becoming well-financed individuals seemed like a great idea to Chrissy and I. Especially since parking is free and we're both hella-poor (as usual) and hey, maybe we'll win!
I managed to stretch my twenty bucks into four hours of playing, but in the end, I went home empty-handed, as did Chrissy. 

Date: May 15th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Man, sorry about the way your family acts towards you. *hugs* Such a shame, but when you start having kids and making your own family it will be AWESOME.

And uh... the EMT trying to take your pants off?? You left that part out.

Date: May 16th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I don't even think they mean to do it. Like, things are so black and white to them and they are so isolated. They all live on the same plot of land in little cinderblock houses and trailers out by Seven Springs.

I think alot of what motivates them is this utter terror that they all seem to have for people and things that are different than what they are accustomed to. I really feel bad for them alot of the time, especially my cousins' kids, who range in age from 6 months to 15 years. I watched alot of them grow up, and it seriously breaks my heart to watch them go from these inquisitive, smart, precious little kids, into carbon copies of their parents and grandparents.

And then I feel bad for thinking that about my family.

I mean, they aren't monsters. None of them are about to run off and join the klan. But they're so unaware of themselves and the world around them and then they sit there and talk about the family getting smaller, falling apart, going to the dogs, and I want to point out that I try so hard to accommodate them. I don't push them away. They push me.

But to them, that's just the way it is. And I'm so curious to know how this would have all played out if my dad was still alive, because honestly, I know I wouldn't be the person I am today, but I still wouldn't be anything like them.

I'm not even sure how my dad ended up being who he was. Our whole branch of the tree is an anomaly. My brother did a genealogy search for school and found that our dad was the first in his family to move out of the state in 150 years.



Date: May 15th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Family. Somehow they have the power to, in turns, make you feel great, and make you feel like crap.

Date: May 16th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Soooooo true.

Date: May 15th, 2011 06:11 am (UTC)
ladyjane: whipped cream and hand-cuffs. "Got Plans?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladyjane
Family... can't live with 'em, wouldn't be here without 'em. *massive hug*

Date: May 16th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*massive hugs back* I seriously wish I could take a wire brush to my DNA sometimes.

Date: May 15th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

That's a terrible thing to say to someone... But they're not very pleasant-sounding anyway. Maybe they just realize they don't deserve to have you, oh, I don't know, care about them, but that's no reason to push you away like that, or to resent you.

Date: May 16th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The thing is, she probably didn't even mean it like a rude and awful thing to say. She probably just thought that she was stating some obvious fact.

I'm pretty sure this approach to communicating with family is part of the reason why my cousins are all a bunch of fails who happily wallow in their own lack of...well...much of anything. My one cousin came right out and said one night (when we were drunk, of course) that he knew when he was fifteen that he wasn't going to amount to much and that's just how it is.

But I think, on some level, they want to be better...which is where the resentment comes in.


Date: May 16th, 2011 09:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Man... If you think so. But that doesn't make it okay, and it doesn't mean you have to be happy or even content with the way they're going about things.

Date: May 16th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, happy and contnet are definite overstatements. More like disappointed and burned-the-fuck-out.

Date: May 15th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are, beyond a doubt, the best thing to ever come out of your family.

Date: May 16th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No way, but I'm totally working on it. :)

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