But until then, at least for another few seconds, I wanted to stay in this happy place. So loved and so protected. So fulfilled.
The book: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
This is the first entry I didn’t preplan, write, or edit in my head before I posted. I always had to wait until I felt “inspired.” For this one, I had no idea what I was doing. I just sat down, and this stream of consciousness is the result:
A number of fellow readers have recommended David Sedaris to me before, but as I was audiobooking his latest collection of essays, I wasn’t quite convinced until I reached the one about his colonoscopy. How he made such an amusing essay out of something as routine as getting a colonoscopy while simultaneously using it to allow his reader a raw glimpse into his relationship with his dad – I’m still impressed.
That last line was really what convinced me of David Sedaris. I don’t think that line will ever become non-applicable in our lives. We all want that happy place, no matter how brief or fleeting of a moment it can be.
For some reason, prior to this blog, I never felt like I talked about my family very often. I haven’t lived with them since I was 18, which means I’ve spent about 1/3 of my life apart from them. Perhaps I’m thinking about them a lot more now because I’ll be back in Texas in a couple of days, and returning to Texas always fills me with a lot of angst. Some of those early childhood wounds still haven’t healed completely, and as much as I have tried to run away from them, figuratively and literally, and somehow I’ve amassed them all into that one giant lone star state. I do say literally run away, because in stressful situations sometimes that “flight” intuition will ignite and my body will twitch into a running position.
I love my family; I really, really, do, and the only reason I go back is to spend whatever dysfunctional time I can with them – because none of us are really very good at expressing how we feel about one another. Or maybe at one point or another we were so good at it, and then left those wounds smarting. Each of us communicated our love in different ways, and whether we were too lazy or stubborn to learn that language, it took us a long time. For a while, I just stopped thinking about it and it was easier because each member of the family was living someplace different. My mom and I, my dad and I have come a long way, and so have my older brother and I.
My older brother – now he’s a character. He’s probably the goofiest, funniest person I know, and that’s saying a lot because I know a lot of funny people. God, I loved having an older brother growing up. He used to use me as his punching bag when he was learning karate, or used the blunt end of a knife to pound my shins, stating that it’ll make me tougher. Or, he’ll hold his farts from his room and run through the kitchen or living room to find me to timely release his toxic gases in my face. Or! He’ll call me, most likely from the bathroom, and sing all of his greetings and responses, which was always hilarious because none of us can sing.
One of my favorite memories of him (and I’m smiling as I write this) was when, during a family trip, we were all driving west to Tyler, TX in that old blue Nissan hatchback, and I had become so incredibly carsick. On the way back, we stopped to buy fresh peanuts and red delicious apples from the side of the road. I had been eating peanuts nonstop, but then became really carsick again. I threw up all over the backseat, with my brother sitting next to me, eating his shiny red apple. Of course, we stopped so I could finish. I glanced over, saw my brother looking at me, looked at his apple, which had a residue of my throw up on it, shrug, wiped the residue off, and continued eating it. He was so brazen with everything in life.
He never let me hug him, all of our lives. As a bratty sister, I used to try to hug him to make him uncomfortable, making a big deal of the matter. He used to put his hand on my face, holding me back so that I couldn’t touch him. I always laughed about it – about how uncomfortable it always made him: showing physical affection to his sister. This was always funny to me, because he’s never been good with goodbyes to me, either. When I left for college, or when I left to study abroad in France, or when I left to go volunteer in Vietnam – they were all very unceremonious goodbyes. Maybe a wave, or maybe he didn’t even acknowledge it. He told me once, when I was crying in the car on the way to the airport to some destination I don’t even remember now, that he doesn’t think you have to say how you feel about someone all the time.
We’ve come a long way, he and I. We don’t talk, practically ever. Emails or messages will go unanswered. We live really, really different lives now. He’s a family man with two lovely boys, and he works hard to provide his family with a home. They have their weekly Sunday family days. I think we see each other once a year, or maybe twice, whenever I gather enough courage to go back to Texas.
Two years ago, however, when I was about to return to Vietnam for that third time, he was rushing to go to work. I was in his office, packing up the last of my stuff to go to the airport, and he stopped. He walked to me and gave me a hug, a real hug – one that lasted for more than a few seconds, and one in which you could feel was genuine. My body tensed up, because I was in shock; this had never happened before. I had barely recovered to return the hug when he kissed me on the side of my head, and walked out the door.
I stood there for a while, not really knowing what had happened, because everything I ever thought about our brother-sister relationship up until then had changed. I wished I could store that moment up forever. Maybe I’ll never get a hug like that from him again, or do I need to, because at that one instant, I knew the depth of our relationship. I felt so loved and so protected. So fulfilled.
End, Memory Twenty Two.
Next week: Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl by Jules Feiffer