Blogopera #14 - No Man is an Island

This is #14 in a series, to read in succession, begin with #1.

“Why did you move here?” he asked.

“Well, the easy answer is I was offered a job and I wanted to know what it was like to live somewhere else.”

“And the difficult answer?”

“I think I needed space between me and my family and room to breathe, to figure out who I was without them. It can be hard to know what you think or feel when there are a bunch of people around answering the questions for you.”

“That’s understandable.”

“That’s not what they’d say.”

“Well, that’s family.”

“What about your family, are those your parents in the picture
over there,” I said pointing to the photo I had seen earlier.

“Yes, that’s us,” he said with a bit of derision in his voice.

“Your parents look happy,” I said not knowing what to say.

“That’s why I keep that picture, to remind me there were some good times.”

“Not a happy marriage?”

“Not even close. I don’t know what started things but I know what finished them.”

I sat silent waiting for him to go on.

He shifted uncomfortably, ”My dad left my mom when I was eight and my mom did not take it well,” he paused for awhile then went on, “she really tried to be okay, keep it together but she couldn’t. She was always sensitive, a little needy even before he bailed and after he left, she couldn’t even get out of bed. There would be some good days but mostly bad, she started drinking and I think there were pills but I’ve never been sure.

I spent a lot of time with my grandfather that year, Jack and I both did. He was trying to make it easier for her, lighten her load, he didn’t know how to help her and her mother was gone by then. I think it made it worse though, without us to be around for she disappeared into herself. She died and we lived with our grandfather until we both went off to college.”

“Is your grandfather still around?”

“No, he died almost ten years ago, yeah I think it was nine because it was a year before I turned thirty.”

“I’m sorry,” I said trying to think of what if anything I could say that wasn’t trite or saccharin,
“that isn’t something any kid should have to go through.”

“Yeah, thanks, I mean I don’t exactly have the monopoly on rough childhoods.”

“No, but being one of many doesn’t usually make things any easier.”

“What about you, your parents together?” he asked.

“Nope, divorced.”

“What happened, if you don’t mind me asking.”

“No, I don’t mind, pretty garden variety for the time,” I said matter of fact, ”married young because they got pregnant, divorced seven years later, dad was involved for awhile, they fought, I was in the middle, they made it hard on each other and when my dad had another family, I didn’t see him much. My mom was always there and a pretty stable parent and I had lots of family around me to balance things out so I think I did ok.”

“How are things with your dad now, do you see him.”

“Yeah, sometimes, I just have low expectations which he consistently delivers on so birthdays, father’s day, crises of mass proportion and I have a dad. When it comes to the everyday dad stuff, I don’t know, I don’t think I've ever really had that but again, like you said, I’m not the only one. Out of all my friends whose parents divorced, maybe ten of us, only one had a dad who stayed involved, the rest slowly fell by the wayside or disappeared altogether.”

“Yeah, I haven’t heard from my dad since shortly after my mom’s funeral. He wanted Jack and me to live with him and his new wife but I was so angry at him, I'm sure I was very difficult but he just stopped trying and that was that.”

“It’s different now you know, we were all like guinea pigs then, people do divorce much better now.”

“Maybe years from now people will look at seventies dads like the dinosaurs, trying to figure out what happened to explain the mass extinction.” he said.

“Come over here,” Dylan said as he scooted to the back edge of the couch to make room for me. I flipped around to the other side of the couch and nestled into the space between his arm. I tangled my legs with his and his fingers lazily combed through my hair. I turned my face up to look at him trying to discern what he was thinking without having to ask. His brown eyes were dark and placid, like a big lake, ripples at the surface the only clue to what lie below. He gently pulled my head back down to his chest resting his chin against my head. “Come to bed,” he said and we staggered from our island and walked to his bedroom.

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