Sunday, March 22, 2009
You Can't Go Home Again
Sometimes it is tough being a parent of adult children and an ex-wife all in the same night. With trepidation I entered the restaurant wearing both hats.
I mentioned in my first blog yesterday that I had hoped the birthday dinner of my oldest son was going to go well. It was a family affair, minus one of my daughter-in-laws who was sick. My ex-husband was the host. My two sons were present as was my oldest son's wife, my other daughter-in-law.
This birthday dinner should should have been routine, but nothing is routine in my family it seems. There is always something going on. We have a bit of a tendency to catastrophize events. Couldn't I be 65 and have no drama at a family gathering? Shouldn't every issues have been resolved by now? It wasn't and why should it. That's just the family dynamic. But it is beyond tedious. Sometimes I feel we are the The Adams Family on crack.
But this time we did not fit the goulish description of TV's one most popular program. Yet, we didn't fit the phoney "Leave It To Beaver" family either. Last night we fell somewhere in the middle of "Arrested Development" and "Brothers and Sisters."
My sons had fought bitterly over the winter holiday. No need to give you the details, but somewhere in a matter of an hour, a stealth bomber had entered my ex-husband's house in Park City and exploded with flares and fires between my two sons. The fight, a little on the physical side (let's just say they were chasing each other down the stairs and I broke them up in the laundry room), ruined the evening planned by my ex at a country club with his dearest friends. I had flashbacks of the horror I felt at seeing my two boys go after each other in the manner they once did as kids. I entered the country club, crying buckets as I entered the bar and drowned myself in a martini was was only four ounces and had no visible alcoholic content. Of course, we were in Utah! Everyone else put on a brave face.
Last night's birthday dinner was the first time I had been in the same room at the same table with my sons. I wasn't privy to all that had been said and not said throughout the last three months. I deliberately absented myself from my family for awhile. It was my their fight and not mine. Wasn't that good of me? There were years when I always tried to make it all better for everyone and failed miserably. But this time I closed my mouth and threw away the key. Is that what it's like being 60is and wise? Who knew it was that simple?
It all went well. There were laughs; there were stories. My second son had just returned from Austin and the South X Southwest music festival and my oldest had returned from DC on business. It seemed he went jogging with a couple of right wing Christian Republicans around the Lincoln and Washington monuments ending up at the steps of the Capitol in a bizarre and really out of body experience for my son. The Austin music festival was fascinating for all of us. My ex, usually somber and sarcastic, was actually animated, albeit still argumentative. I ate and drank great wine and relished listening to the conversation. No one came away emotionally scared. It was a miracle.
I never thought, never could imagine myself in my 60's living with a sense of foreboding or anxiety. It was like my faucets got switched. Which one was I turning on for what feeling. Last night at dinner I told my daughter-in-law that I had an outer body experience for a few minutes. Of course, I was sitting there single again and facing my ex-husband and realizing that it was actually our 45 wedding anniversary if we had still been married. I toyed with bringing it to his attention or making a joke or a toast to years of knowing each other but we really didn't know each other at all. We pretended to know each other a long time ago when we were in our twenties. That was long ago and far away and there was no sentiment left. His struggles, and there are many, including the primary one of his living in a cave without light (my code for being unconscious), were too painful for me last night. Bringing up an old, mangled marriage memory was out of the question. I couldn't go home again.
Live is certainly not lived on a level playing field, but is a wildly interesting character study.