Monday, August 5, 2013

Family Secrets

A few weekends ago we had a hectic weekend. Usually our lives are pretty calm. But that weekend we had the in-laws in town, my aunt was in town, we got invited to 3 BBQs, 4 birthday parties, and 2 other events. I usually like to go to everything, but that weekend it was physically impossible without cloning being an option. We ended up spending time with family and going to 1 birthday party, and even that felt like a lot. I took off that Friday so I could spend some time with my aunt.

Some families are those warm, fuzzy families where everyone knows everyone's business, and they text 243 times a day. I wasn't born into one of those families. I was born into two families (speaking about my mom's side and my dad's side) that didn't really talk. My grandparents on my dad's side made stuff up, so I never believed anything they said anyway. My mom has never been open, and I learned quickly that there's a long list of Things You Should Never Bring Up In Front of My Mother Unless You Want To Die. In order to avoid death, I tried to only speak when spoken to. When I did talk, it was only about facts and never about such things as feelings.

When my mom was in the Persian Gulf War, I lived with my aunt and uncle (from my mom's side). It was a short war, and I was only living with them for a couple months. At the time, I was 13, which is perhaps my most embarrassing time, as I wore a black hat all the time, put oodles of obnoxious-smelling perfume on, and had a penchant for green eyeshadow. I was still a kid in although at the time I thought I was a very mature almost-adult.

I talk with my aunt, but we really have never spent any time alone since I was 13. My mom has always been around when my aunt comes up for a visit. I did go down to California to visit my aunt, but my uncle was always around.

I took off that Friday a couple of weeks ago, and she, my stepdad, and I went to the casino while my mom was at work. My stepdad went off to do his own thing when we got there, so it was just my aunt and I in a nearly empty casino, as it was 10am. Only the hardcore (and us) were there at such a weird hour.

My aunt and I had a good conversation. As for gambling, neither of us are gamblers. So we really spent the time talking instead of tending to the slot machines. My aunt was concerned about my mom and stepdad, and that led us to talk about other things. I asked my aunt about my mom's past, as there were some things I never really understood. Either my mom had said something in an offhanded way that related to the Things You Should Never Bring Up list, or I had always wondered. Conversely, there were things I knew about my mom that my aunt didn't know about. Basically we exchanged information to get us to approximately the same knowledge base.

It was enlightening. I've always wondered so much about my mother and WHY she is the way she is. I wondered WHY she married my dad. I wondered WHY she made some of the decisions she did. My aunt didn't necessarily know the answers to those questions, as she and my mom have a weird relationship just like my mom and I do. But she could at least give me more context, and that was very much appreciated.

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