Saturday, February 19, 2011

get it over with

I didn't know where to put this is, and in fact, I'm not sure now is the right time but I'm not sure where else to put it. So let's get this over with.

So, his name is not important, I'm not sure I want to give him that much credit. He's the father to the three of us and there is not a time that I can remember him really being there for us. The first memory I have of him is at an apartment in Modesto on what I believe was a 2nd story. The apartment had some Elvis paraphenalia, that followed him from place to place whenever he moved to a new apartment or home. He teased me for drinking my milk with my pinky out, something I didn't even realize I did. Jason and Elizabeth were there as well, we weren't there for too long though. This is one of the better memories, I knew that he had just come back from "somewhere" (most likely, rehab or jail) and he "wanted to be a bigger part of our lives." I don't think there was any moment we believed it, but we really wanted to.

We had a very good life, but the times when he popped in and out were hard on all of us. Elizabeth and I had a tough time with it because what little girl doesn't want her daddy there? Jason though, he suffered. It was hard on him in a different way, it seemed as though he felt he needed to take the place of the "dad" figure and still be a big brother and be a kid. It's a difficult balance and he took it very seriously, sometimes we girls hated it. More than once I told him that he "wasn't my dad!" I could tell it hurt him because he tried so hard to really make a difference for us. We knew over time that our father would make promises he could never keep. He would promise to come to Christmas at his parents, or a birthday party, or even graduation.

He was absent, maybe that was the worst part. His life and his time was more important than anyone else's, even his kids'. I remember sitting once in a small room in or near Mt. Hermon, how I knew that I'm not sure- but there was a parrot there, it was a bit dark and I just waited. Waiting for my mom to come. I don't know how old I was (I do know I was very young) or even if it was possible for me to have a memory like this one at such a young age. This is how much of our time with our dad was though. It was us, waiting or hoping to go home and being in a new, different,and sometimes somewhat scary place.

It was easy to see why my mother fell for him in the first place though, he was somewhat handsome and had eyes that were understanding. Little did she and those closest to her know that those eyes understood one thing, people and how to control them. The best word for him is con-man. He tricked people into believing he was something that he wasn't. He had an elaborate story for everything and it was always perfect and romantic. His persona sucked you in, he was charming and always knew how to make an individual feel like they were the only one important to him.

He tried sometimes. When he married his 2nd wife, we were not invited. He said that he would have another wedding, on the beach somewhere and we'd get to come and wear fancy clothes and it would be a very special day. She already had a daughter, one wise beyond her years and though I only met her a couple times, she was always sweet. She died at a very young age during heart surgery, that was what I was told. I still believe that now, amidst all the other lies, this just didn't seem like it could be one of them. It seemed as though once her daughter passed away, she didn't want to be around us either. It may have been just too hard for her or that she simply wasn't interested, but our father used this as an excuse not to see us as well. It didn't help that he didn't have a license but that also was used as an excuse. When we did see him, he seemed not to understand us at all, which isn't all that strange beings that the amount of time we spent with him was so little. We were essentially strangers and like he did with strangers, he tried to impress us. He didn't have much to show for it all, but somehow we always played into it, it was awkward when we didn't. So we just did.

This is simply the beginning. It was the beginning of a life trying to figure things out, and sometimes, I still don't understand. Trying to get it all now would be too much for anyone, luckily we had so many people to support us. We'll be revisting this later. For now, we're blessed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

3 blind mice

We fought. Probably not more than any other siblings did, but we fought. And quite well. I can recall more than once being bitten enough to have severe marks left and once with blood drawn. It was never meant to actually HURT the other person, but we just were very different and so alike at the same time.

Of us all, Jason led the pack, with quiet vigor he knew exactly how it should be done and how it was done. He had eyes on us girls when no one else thought they needed to. Liz (Elizabeth) sat in the middle. She often put us back in line. Quiet in a crowd but watch out when she was in a small group, she really could have a voice. And then there was me. Stubborn, selfish, and LOUD. I used to get paid to not talk during my haircuts. We were three very firm, very bull headed kids. Somehow we all made it out, mostly in one piece.

I don't always know how to explain us as siblings. Jason and Liz look quite a bit alike and both are slower to speak and much more thoughtful. They may not say it, but in every action, you know they love you. I, on the other hand, have many features that are not much like theirs and often have spoken without a single thought. I'm at the point where so many times people have laughed when they realized that I was their sister, that I just laugh along. We also had a blurred line between sibling and cousin sometimes. Since so many of our cousins were around so much of the time, we spent as much time with our cousins as we did our siblings and vice versa. Maybe that's why we didn't have to get to know each other much until we were old enough to all have become different people than others thought.

I remember though that when I needed someone, really needed someone, who understood how I was feeling; my sister would sit on my bed and let me play with her hair and my brother make me laugh when nothing seemed like it was right in our world. They can't be replaced, some have come close, but no one knows exactly what it was like to be there when we were, except us.

Jason was funny. Really funny, in fact. It took me awhile to realize it, and the dryness, like a good wine, sometimes is misrepresented as bitter. I think that when I did come to notice it, I should have laughed a lot harder. From him deciding to put mayonnaise on a girl he barely knew to finding ways to get us believe that tying us to a tree and playing "damsel in distress" would work out well. Even if that meant that he wasn't going to come back for us for several hours. I had a hard time understanding him and his personality and it made it hard on the two of us sometimes. Thank goodness he didn't give up on me, who knows where I would have been now.

Elizabeth was always persistent. She always knew things that the rest of us didn't know. She had a way of hearing things the rest of us always wanted to know. She made sure we knew it too. She would share, but we almost had to beg first. It was funny though, because she always wanted to follow the rules, even when she barely knew better, she wanted to follow the rules. She used to say, "patience is a virtue" every chance she'd get, just to remind us that she (and we) knew better. Thought I never understood her then, I wish I had. She's amazing. One of the best friends anyone could have, always faithful, always true, and honorable. I wish I'd appreciated her then.

Sometimes we'd share secrets together when we were getting along. There were the secrets that we shared just because we felt as though we were the only ones who understood what it was like to not have our dad around, there were the secrets we had just because we cold. Sometimes, our secrets could hurt. Sometimes, our secrets were silly, like us going to the swimming pool and would go get candy from the Ripon Drug store while Grandma was at Grandma Witt's visiting. We also knew what the others were doing, even if they thought it was a secret. Much like we knew that I'd have candy- I was a candy magnet, Liz would have money- she just did, and Jason would have things torn apart somewhere- even if everyone else thought it was still together.
We honestly did love eachother, just not in the way that I sometimes think siblings should. We did happen to find trouble and we were all similar and very different at once. As we grew up I don't know that we were ever really apart, but we weren't terribly together either. If anything, we were always shadows in the background of eachothers lives, each one of us being the most important in the main picture.

My favorite times are from when we were older, probably because we had learned to accept that there were things we couldn't change. We had the summer of the pubs/bars, where Mom somehow found a pub/bar for us to stop at along our many small journeys for a short break or for a meal. Never intentional, and almost always because there wasn't much else, but it's not forgotten. The nicknames also stick out; Jay Ray Fay, Lizardbreath, and SaraBear (they haven't really left us, we just don't mention them in public anymore.) Also, many a camping trip, down to Sunset, Montana de Oro, or Henry Cowell; all of which also involving Grandpa and Grandma. We were one extended family that overflowed onto the rest of life, kind of like honey- sweet, sticky, and natural. We came naturally to eachother, we grew up naturally together, and now that we're apart, it's not the same. Of course, we appreciate our time together more than ever, but the time is few and far between, it's bittersweet to think back to then, we knew we didn't have it all and we struggled through a lot of it but somehow we were naive to how difficult it really was and what it entailed to keep us all going.

I see it in all of us though, as we raise our children, that our lives are not so different, just in different places.