A timely excerpt from my memoir, #MOODS, Men, & Mommy Issues
One of my earliest and favorite memories with my siblings is at some party in the lobby. The party favors included drawing boards with a sticky grey film and a red plastic stylus. You’d use the stylus to apply pressure over the grey film and draw, and start over by lifting the film. This was an endlessly fascinating prop. I remember having so much fun at this party, running around behind my brother and sister. I was always following them.
My Maryland family constantly had parties and get-togethers. Including my favorite Aunt who I lived with, there were four sisters. My grandfather had remarried and so I had a second extended family through his wife’s children. I remember the parties with overall fondness. But I also remember wanting to be wherever my brother and sister were, and them not sharing that same eagerness to have me behind or beside them.
When I think about it now my siblings and I were always going to experience disconnect. They’d been able to bond with one another from my brother’s birth. I didn’t share that.
For the first three years of my life we’d only known each other through pictures. I don’t share any memories of discord in our familial home that my sister might have. I also don’t share any memories of the discord I can imagine went on between my grandmother’s children in Canada.
My developmental years were blessed and charmed. I was encouraged to express myself and I was lavished with attention, crayons, coloring books, clothes, and toys from someone who’d quietly endured the inability to have her own children. I was special to my caretaker and she let me know it.
I think that knowledge is important to give a child, anyone. People need to know they matter to other people.
My Aunt had the money of a single working woman in the 1980s. She could afford to give me her ideas of the best. My divorced mother had not long left her abuser. She had three children and very little job prospects outside of working for entrepreneurial relatives, and cleaning houses. There was a noticeable difference between what she could provide my brother and sister, and what my Aunt could provide me.
The first time I knew what it meant to miss someone was after my mother and siblings left DC for New York. There was a noticeable difference in Aunt’s apartment – my home. My family’s absence created an immediate melancholy in me, an empty, idle sadness that I was too young to know or name. I remember climbing into my Aunt’s lap and having her read my favorite Richard Scary story book to me.
Not that I’d had a say in the matter, but if I’d understood that my going to New York was permanent I might have opted out, or cried and thrown a fit.
As it was, at the time I was excited. I was then, in 1989, much like I am now – very excitable and eager to share my news with others. I was going to school! In New York! Where all the buildings were tall!
I did not understand that I wouldn’t get to live with my Aunt anymore.
Shortly after getting to New York I’m corrupted and maimed.
Tell me what you think before we both die