When I was 5 or 6, at my father’s mother’s funeral, my parents asked me to choose who I wanted to live with. My immediate understanding was we are no longer going to live together and I have to tell them both, right now, who I loved the most. Feeling cracked and split. My heartbeat quickened.
This feeling was like the opposite of jumping into a pool. I had been floating along. Even when I was sad or upset I wasn’t living in the real world. In my memories everything seems dreamlike. Fuzzy. But, this is crisp like Autumn wind. This was the real world and I had never seen it before. What was I looking at? It’s like some sort of mean spirited pop quiz. When bad things happened, it always felt all-consuming. Then some deep part of me says, “This is where I am, and I have nowhere else to go. “
My earliest memories of my parents are of them not getting along. But, it was sort of normal; this is life like walking or breathing. There were never violent or huge hits to my psyche. My mother was traveling all the time then. It was me and my dad when she did. She was working on her doctorate and was part of the National Reserve.
Those early times with my dad and I were interesting. There seemed to be an odd separation that I didn’t understand. I remember being home again. I can’t see time. It’s nighttime. Cicadas socialize outside; sounds of the south. I can see a portrait of a clown, with olive skin, half lit by a street light. Smiling at me. I never liked this clown. I turn away from it and concentrate on the cicadas. Something is welling up inside of me. I vomit on my bed, pillow, and myself.
In shame and fear I sit up. I have to tell my dad. I have to be brave. I get up off the bed and avoid the mess, as I step to the door, and open it. Sheepish, I nudge my father, who is in some version of sleep. Angry, he tries to soften his impatience “What is it…?” “I threw up.”
He sits up. I show him my mess. We change the sheets and my clothes. He tucks me in and says use the bathroom next time and to go to sleep. He leaves me with the clown. The vomit came before I could sit up and catch it in my throat. I did it again. I’m a bad boy. What did I do…? I am so bad. I made a mess.
I go to my father. He is father now. Not dad. “I threw up.” He is mad. The changing of the sheets is more…