At some point in my life, I became a responsible adult. When the hell did this happen, and what can I do to make it stop? And why are these alien creatures occasionally possessed by Satan calling me daddy? These lyrics from that old Talking Heads song seems appropriate:
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-well…how did I get here?
My experiences growing up basically pointed me in the direction of getting the hell out of Dodge sooner rather than later. When I had moved to Hawaii to live with my mom in the mid 1980s, mostly because I didn’t want to live with my dad, I went to a private day/boarding high school. I had originally started as a day student, but quickly realized that if I wanted to be away from the insanity of my mother and step-father, I needed to be a boarding student. My mother figured out how to make it work. So the middle of my sophomore year, I became a boarding student.
As a boarding student, you pretty much had to take care of yourself. Oh sure, there were live-in faculty and dorm prefects (think R.A. in college, except they were high-school seniors), but you had to do your own laundry, make sure you did your homework, and all that happy crap. There wasn’t anyone around to nag you. There was sufficient structure (e.g. study hall, a “enforced” bedtime) to help keep you on the straight and narrow. And, of course, there were plenty of kids not on the straight and narrow. I even had to help deal with some of them when I was a prefect my senior year.
Of course, the other thing that happens senior year is you have to apply for college. And, eventually, Financial Aid. They held a workshop at the school. Pretty much everyone was there with a parent. I wasn’t. I was there by myself trying to sort out how to apply for the various grants. My mother didn’t make a whole lot of money. She also wasn’t married to my step-father, which made it really easy to look poor on paper. I got a boatload of grants at Santa Clara and got loans and on-campus jobs to make up the difference.
During my time at college, I pretty much ran my own life. However, there was the little matter of my grandmother who lived in a trailer Santa Cruz, not too far away from college. Yes, I visited her on the weekends and stayed with her during the summer. These were the last years that my grandmother was able to live on her own. Sometime during high school, some stuff happened with my uncle Andy. I’m a bit unclear on what it is now, though I’m pretty sure it involved booze and threats of violence. Probably better that I don’t remember it all. Anyway, it turned this once proud, happy-go-lucky woman who did everything into someone very timid, frail, and unable to do much of anything for herself. It was sad to watch.
Anyway, I think it was during my junior or senior year that my mother decided that grandma needed to live with her in Hawaii. I ended up staying in her place on weekends and the like. In fact, I had arranged my class schedule part of my senior year so that I had classes only on Tuesday and Thursday. The rest of time, I could be home alone. Eventually, I think it was shortly after I graduated college, my mother decided she was unhappy with how I was keeping up the trailer. I didn’t keep up the yard. I hate yard work. Still do. Rather than deal with my mother, I opted for my own apartment.
Not sure exactly when this happened, but eventually a huge Matson container showed up and it was filled to the brim with lots of stuff hidden all over the trailer. Most of it was crap you couldn’t give away at Goodwill. Nothing like seeing a Matson container full of crap to show you just how deep the pack rat genes run in the family. Anyway, the trailer eventually sold.
After I moved out of the trailer and started living on my own, I think my mother started going insane. I had no idea how to deal with it. When this person you trusted all these years starts spewing crazy illogical things, what the hell are you supposed to do? I tried humoring her for a while. Somewhere in this, I met my wife. She helped me see what my mother was doing and gave me the strength to eventually tell her to STFU. And that led to all kinds of traumatic fun, which took a couple more years to play itself out and ended in me not ever wanting to speak to her again.
And, of course, there was my relationship with my dad, which wasn’t very strong. It became non-existent in the early part of college. My best friend at the time somehow got involved with my dad. There was some bad blood there. I can’t say for sure, but I think it was one of those “bricks in the wall” that ultimately ended in me losing my best friend–the one I had since 6th grade. I don’t blame anyone here, it’s just one of those things that happened. I still don’t know why my best friend stopped talking to me. There’s a couple of loose ends that I’d like to tidy up sometime.
Eventually, I moved to another part of the world, bought a house, got married, had kids, and there you have it. I guess once you do all those things, you’re officially a grup. I’m still trying to figure out at what point I crossed the threshold to adulthood. Maybe it was at the point I realized that I was in control of my own destiny and that relying on my parents for anything was going to get me nowhere fast? Maybe it was when I had the testicular fortitude to stand up to my mom and stay STFU?
Who knows. I suppose it really doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do now that I’m here. And trust me, there’s a lot to do without having to dig up ancient history.