I was a melancholy and melodramatic kid. At least this is the way my immediate family would describe me. I was actually bright and eager and energetic. "Full of light and love," according to my favorite aunt, who used to kiss my elbows (because freckled elbows were "pure genius"), to play in the rain with me (because it was "more fun than a bath and laundry"), and to make me laugh on purpose in church (because "God really isn't this serious"). She died when I was 13, from drinking as far as I can tell. The family carefully suppressed the details, quietly claiming that fumes from the stain she was using on an antique dresser or an allergic reaction to a prescription drug might have been involved.
I was melancholy and melodramatic much of the time, largely because my "let's go out and explore that great big crazy funny world" attitude was regularly frowned upon by my depressive mother and autocratic father. I am not blaming them. My mother was depressed--clinically--and too tired to deal. And she still managed to bring quite a bit of light into my life. My father was scared shitless, because he had been working his ass off for years to bring himself, his little brother, and his parents out of poverty. By the time he had his own family, he was doing well and beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though he was pretty much out of the tunnel at that time and is way beyond it now, he--then and now--is convinced that the light is attached to a big old train waiting to mow him down.
Excuse the tired metaphor. And the melancholy. And the melodrama. I have been in a dark, dark mood for days now. Voting yesterday and seeing all of my neighbors and students happily voting significantly brightened my mood. And then the results. I was hanging out in the attic with my friend, Demetrius (who just returned from a long trip and whom I was delighted to see), Cassio (whom I was less delighted to see--more on that later), a giant bottle of red wine (which I was sipping then guzzling and which I'd like to guzzle now), and some take-out food (yummy Chinese). My state of course turned blue (har har) but many of the rest--including my mother's, my father's, and my sister's--turned red. Demetrius and Cassio slipped away at some point. I passed out at some point. I awoke at some points (2:30 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m.). I had a few vivid, drunken dreams with no plot other than me screaming insults at my mother, my father, and my sister. This morning, a few realities hit: a) I have a raging hangover; b) This country is fucked beyond repair; and c) I might never speak to my family again, at least in any real way.
I do not want to talk to them. I do not want to visit them over the holidays. I am irate with them. I know I am irrationally focusing all of my frustration about the state of the union on them. But how am I supposed to love and live and laugh with people who are motivated by fear and hatred and radical exclusivity--to the point of railing at and excluding me when I dare to express my beliefs? My sister is even raising her children in this way. Her kids know I have liberal views. In fact, they are rather fascinated by them. Sis is careful to tell them that Auntie Medusa is "confused" and "brainwashed." Of course this is said as if it is some kind of hilarious joke. When I object, she claims I am being "uptight."
Maybe I am just obsessed with my own state of the union. Rather than thinking about what I might do politically, I am thinking about how to get along with my family. It feels like the two are all bound up in one another, though, at least for me. The dark mood of many days is partially the result of dealing with a recent family drama. I have been trying to help to sort out a battle between my mother and my sister (yes, an old pattern), which my father has in some ways caused. Now I just feel trapped in their ideology. I feel like the whole fucking country is trapped in their ideology.
Yeah--melancholy and melodramatic. The kid is back.