Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Sort of Anniversary

Last week marked not only the anniversary of my move to LA, but also the anniversary of the last time I spoke with my parents.

How do I remember that?

Because it was on my father's birthday, January 26, a date I still am able to remember despite not using it, like my mother's work phone number from over twenty years ago, the last time she ever worked (315-422-0121).

What don't I remember?

How long it's been.

I have a sense it's been about five years. But time hasn't been dragging. I haven't been counting the days, much less the years. I've been living. I've been doing all the things they never let me do, and way more.

And what have they been doing?

It's weird when you're new in town, because besides "What do you do?" and "Where are you from?", the most commonly-asked questions are "Are your parents still back there?" and, oddly, "Are they still together?"

My answer is inevitably "As far as I know," bringing quizzical looks to faces and cracking open an unexpected nest of unwelcome conversation killers.

Are they alive? Are they still in Syracuse? In the same house? Together? As far as I know. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

If I ever really cared to verify their status, of course I could always just call. I could have stopped by while I was in Syracuse for Christmas. My sister could have checked in with them. But after a lifetime of alternating abuse and neglect, neither one of us have any desire to have anything to do with them.

And if they had wanted to have anything to do with us, they would have called. They would have sent something in the mail.

But now five(ish) years, later, we've both disconnected our home telephone lines, moved to different cities (my sister, twice), and forged our own parentless lives. I rarely think about my parents unless someone else brings them up, mostly because I've embedded myself into a new family that actually loves me and isn't shy about saying it - something I didn't think would happen until I'd snagged myself some in-laws, which is taking longer than expected.

So upon the passing of another year, the anniversary becomes more and more of a celebration rather than simply a commemoration. As I meet new people, whose fallen faces express pity over my broken family, my parents' abortion of their adult child, I have to try to convince them that this is a good thing. My unloving parents, unto whom I was born, did me a favor by releasing me, making me available for those who would really love me to snap me up.

Pity my parents. They have to live the rest of their lives (whatever is left of them) without their own children, and no loving surrogate children to replace them.

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