Something happened to me when..
Something happened to me when my parents split up. I did not see the profound effects when I was younger, I had no capacity for it because they divorced just two days after my 5th birthday. However, I do vaguely remember little snippets of memories. I remember running into my brothers room late one night listening to them fight. We pulled the covers over our heads and hoped the yelling would stop. One night we got so desperate that we walked into the living room and told them to do rock paper scissors to determine who got the couch. After they separated, I would walk down the stairs of my mom’s new house late at night to see her sitting in the living room, on the same couch, crying.
I remember the pain I saw in my mother. My perception of my mother permanently changed after I saw her cry. When you’re a child, you never forget the first time you see your parents cry. It was my first time seeing what pain, loneliness, and hurt can do to a person.
All of a sudden my brother and I plunged into a pattern. Shuffling between their houses, packing our clothes all the time, and always moving.
My dad remarried first to a nice woman who was going to be my stepmom through eight very developmental years of my life. But two years ago she left my father a voicemail on his phone that when he got home from his ski trip, he would find her stuff gone. She preferred a friends couch over my father’s heavy drinking and endless yelling.
Not even before the divorce papers would finalized he had found another girlfriend, and they were engaged by the end of the summer. It wasn’t until he had to quit drinking for legal issues before he gave it up. He looks better and we bond like we did before I knew what a few beers could do to him.
I owe much to all of my parents. Yet, the thing about having a broken home all your life is you never know what it is like coming home to mom and dad. You never know what having one christmas celebration, one birthday party, or one thanksgiving dinner is like. It was normal that friends’ parents had to ask at which house to drop me off. I look back and think about how kids my age balanced homework and playing outside while I balanced parents. My parents separation so generously gave me the inability to handle somebody leaving. No matter how anybody made me feel, whether it was shitty or wonderful, I would rather have them in my life than not. I held on, and I swear to you that everything I have ever let go of has claw marks on it.
Something happened to me when I realized that everything is temporary. You never think that the last time is the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don’t. You never know when it is going to be the last time you’re going to see somebody before they change forever. You never know if tonight’s or last night’s dinner wa the last time you will ever have a meal with that person. You just never know. Everything is so fleeting- one day you’re hugging a person goodbye and the next you pretend you are complete strangers.
Everybody says that it will get easier. Everybody says it is for the better. I agree, but what they don’t tell you is how tired you get of living out of a duffle bag. What they don’t tell you is how often you have to put on a brave face for your father. Or how often he is puts one on for you, or how you both see right through each other’s. They never tell you how to prepare yourself. They never teach you how to cope.When you’re in the fourth grade they ask you, “If both your parents are in a burning building and you could only save one, which one would you save?” They never tell you that the common app requires you answer the date when your parents got a divorce. And they never tell you how your mom will look at you when you have to ask.