Friday, April 27, 2007

on self love

I remember the day my parent’s marriage finally broke up. I was twenty, and a junior at Syracuse University. I had dinner guests over at the off-campus house I shared with three women. Putting on a dinner in those days was a huge deal, and there we were, about to sit down amid the plates of doctored Top Ramen and bottles of Gennie Cream Ale.

The phone rang. It was my mother announcing memo style that she’d just left my father. I don’t think there was an invitation to Q and A. I placed the phone back on its cradle. I said, to the little group of college kids assembled around the plywood table, “My parents just split up. Let’s have some noodles.”

Calm, calm, calm as could be. But the following year was one of the more tumultuous in my memory. Here is a partial list

  1. Worked in a hospital over the summer and decided to forget my dreams of becoming a writer-slash-anthropologist and learned instead how to counsel heart patients on eating less eggs and bacon
  2. Took up with a coke addict
  3. Got diagnosed with a mitral valve prolapse and went on beta blockers
  4. Learned the coke addict (who was 28) was married. Didn’t care.
  5. Went off beta blockers and began smoking a lot of weed
  6. Broke up with the coke addict, went back to school, and worked full time at a bar
  7. Began dating the bouncer (secretly) who was a black ex-con
  8. Took acid and flipped out
  9. Got really good grades in food science
  10. Got really bad grades in sewing (I had to take a whole slew of home economics classes for some strange reason)
  11. Began dating (not secretly) a graduate student who had lots of rattlesnakes in glass cages a few feet from his bed
  12. Stopped doing drugs altogether, stopped dating questionable men, and began dating the Italian Catholic boy who’d been pursuing me for several months

I graduated college with a degree in Dietetics Management and moved to Phoenix, Arizona because it was the opposite of Syracuse, New York and because I’d read an article about it in Cosmo during a blizzard. I dragged the Italian Catholic boy with me, much to the dismay of his Buffalo, New York Italian Catholic clan family, and set out to live a conventional, church-going life.

I began to pop out the babies as prescribed, and we moved back to New York State. Four days before my second child’s birth, the Italian Catholic boy’s head was crushed in a fatal car accident.

I was calm, calm, calm as could be. I gave birth. I moved back out West. The cycle began anew, and I repeated all the former mistakes and followed them up with band aids back to sanity.

Skip ahead, several lifetimes from my parent’s divorce and the ensuing pachinko, and I think I’ve figured out a thing or two.

Here’s the residue:

  1. Life doesn’t play by the rules
  2. Don’t trust anything that suggests there is order in the Universe
  3. Love fully
  4. If you don’t acknowledge the dark side, it’s gonna find you and it won’t be pretty
  5. To be human is to make mistakes. Make them, say you’re sorry, and do better the next time… It’s the only way to find any grace
  6. Keep fighting for who you are

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