I tried to think of a better or more creative title for this post but opted for the simple truth.
We (me, Co, and the dachsie) went to my mother's house to celebrate Passover. She lives in a house I never lived in with her husband (she hasn't lived in my childhood home for years now and there have been a number of places, and partners, since....my dad's the one who left her, though).
The truth is I had three childhood homes that I remember (the fourth is the apartment I was born in, but I don't remember it, we only lived there until I was two) in three different states (and not all of them were in the Northeast!). My mother and sister now live in the last state where the family landed, but not in the same city where I lived for 8 years. My father lives in that same state as well, though not in the city where they raised us, and not near my mother and sister. I can actually feel my breath get shorter when we cross the border into that state. It is not a place I ever really liked, though I cannot deny its effect on my personality and growth and selfhood.
The details are long and complex and perhaps not even worth relating....the simple truth of the situation (from my perspective) is that she (and to some degree my younger sister, you know, the one who is pregnant) have an image of me that does not match my own image of myself. Their image of me is of someone with serious emotional problems, someone needy and angry and manipulative who must be "managed" at all times and who has a habit of "ruining" events with my unpredictability.
It's not how I see myself. My own memories involve hiding from my mother's inevitable rage (especially at holiday times) because no matter what I did, whether I was hiding in my room or helping by her side or doing cartwheels in the living room (I actually never learned how to do a cartwheel; it's a metaphor, if you know what I mean) she became enraged at me for ruining her holiday. I came to the conclusion early on that my existence has ruined a lot of things for her....but once I learned how babies were made, I knew whose fault that was!
She does not direct this kind of rage at my sister (nor did she until I left the house, but I didn't know that until many years later), probably because my sister was and is passive and small and blond and sweet and feminine and pretty. And now, pregnant. Though I was not fat as a child (despite what I thought at the time) I was always tall. This fact is funny to me now, because I am only about 5' 4" and am constantly asking students to get things off shelves for me, but I grew to my full height quickly. At the age of four people regularly thought I was six; at six, people thought I was eight; etc. etc. By 8th grade I was regularly taken for a college student. I still can't imagine how that worked since in my perception and in pictures I look like such a, well, 8th grader.
Really, this needs to be a photo-essay, so I can show what I mean; one of these days I'll scan the kiddie pix.
The point of this post being, I guess, that family dynamics die hard, and I hope I am the person I think I am, the grown-up who lives in the city I love (childhood home #2, as it happens, though not the actual house of course) and raises a dachshund with love and has a wife I love who loves me....a person with a career that matters, a congregation that matters, a real life where I am not ruined, not a ruiner.
That is all.