Saturday, January 06, 2007

No End In Sight



The last time my entire immediate family had their picture taken together was at the thirtieth birthday party for the son of one of my parents' friends. The son had just gotten out of prison for drugs, and he'd gotten AIDS from dirty needles. He'd recently married a woman he'd met in rehab who also had AIDS and two little boys, who were not infected. I had to be dragged by my hair to this event, given that I'm not a social person by nature and while I liked the birthday boy and had written him in prison, I didn't want to endure the horrors of being trapped in a small house with screaming children and no end in sight. But I went. The father, totally blotto by our arrival, greeted us at the door crying. I suspected that this would be a pretty dismal affair, and so far, my Amazing Karnac impression had proved correct. The new wife tried to get her boys under control -- they were running around like crazy, hitting all the guests on their heads with a rolled-up Spice Girls poster, yelling, These are the spicy girls! over and over. I began to understand the father's strategy of heavy drinking even though almost everyone there besides my family was in some sort of recovery and could not join him in his tour of duty through a box, yes, a box of wine.

The newlyweds talked about how they had met in group therapy and knew they'd found their soulmates. I never met anyone who got me right away, the birthday boy said. He'd written the same thing about heroin in one of his letters to me and about his last, for lack of a better descriptive word, skanky beyond belief girlfriend who he'd found on the ho' troll in Ft. Worth whom he'd saved from her pimp. The boys referred to their mother's new husband as "Daddy Two" and talked about Daddy One's slow descent into death. Daddy One used a walker. Daddy One coughed and had to have a tube. It was enough to make you either count your blessings or want to take the gaspipe. I sat on the couch, accustomed to pretending bizarre situations were completely normal. The birthday boy's parents looked much older than they were, having been through a wringer they could have never even known existed given their staid, middle-class lives. Years ago, the birthday boy's mother had asked my mother if she could have these evil-looking wooden carved statues that once decorated my parents' house. They were a gift from my mother's relatives in the old country, and my mother believed them cursed. My mother wanted to throw them out, but gave them away instead because of the request. Now they surrounded us again, glaring at us from the corners of the living room. The drunk father asked if we wanted our picture taken. My mother was on the verge of getting sick again, my dad had been through a brutal lay-off at work. Everyone had their eyes open, except my sister who was the only one who looked happy, as if she were making a wish. I guess that's what you do at birthday parties.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." Muriel Rukeyser

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Hillbilly Deluxe Dwight Yoakum

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Saturday!

10 comments:

Rodney Dangerfield said...

Hey, Michelle, your family get together was a lot better than when I was last with my family. I got drowned in a fish tank, if you know what I mean.

Short bus said...

No end, but I see panties.

Anonymous said...

WHAT LIES AT THE END THE WALK

The walk is over, the end of the path has been reached and now there is rest in silence. The garden of Nirvana is there in its place waiting for you to come and drink of its healing waters and eat its fruit of truth. Seeing that once the crucifixion of your doubts and fears was done, you could come within and take your rest amongst the orchids of love and listen to the waters sing words of peace to you. Yet walk you must until you reach this place for it can not come to you, it is a space within you. It is the place where the graveyard of the living is resurrected and you with it. Take your time, all men must walk the road at a pace their own but the end of the road can be near or far depending if you try to walk alone or not.


Sounds to me like just another scene on the path. Keep walking.

Peace

TWM

Anonymous said...

Great story. Even greater boots! I have a completely functional family that I do not count my blessings for nearly often enough.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like my life before I left my ex-husband... Cute photo, M!

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle another lovely view and post as always. That is some empty fountain of youth and also, what ever the Walker is taking must be strong and have quite curative powers. Like Lourdes without crutches or the loveliest champagne and rarest caviar. To you my dear, a Peaceful Bravo!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never been the type who likes having a family portrait taken. How appropriate for your sister to be the only one smiling, and with her eyes closed too. Sure wish you could've posted that picture; however, your discription really made it come to life.

Anonymous said...

holy crap...
so let me get this straight you did not start drinking at the party...I would have had a flask in my boot!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this piece, Michelle. Great stuff. I can't help but nod. Brilliant. -Jill

Anonymous said...

What a great story michelle! I hate being dragged to parties that I don't want to go to. The worst is when I can't even sneak away to read a book because whoever dragged me to the wretched party wants me to 'converse' with people. Oh well, here's to a future with no crappy parties (although I doubt that will ever happen!) Love the picture Michelle. You are so beautiful! I think those boots are kick ass!