Saturday, October 31, 2009

Isn't Family A Wonderful Thing?

Not my actual family. But pretty close.

My mother's oldest child somehow got the impression he's an only child. He's a prickly curmudgeon with an undercurrent of contempt and disdain for the rest of us. A 62 year old little boy who drinks, smokes, rides his fancy Harley Davidson around with an aging boomer crowd of contractors and other middle class creeps up in the Fox Valley.
There's something in the water up there that makes people homophobic-Jesus loving-John Birch Society-Racists. Not all of them, but a lot of them. He's soaked in it, a republican thug who sneers like Dick Cheney, sputters out buzz words like "Chappaquiddick" or "Nancy Pelosi Liberal Values" like they mean something. When the subject of how fucked up Iraq is comes up,, he sputters out "Saddam was a Bad Man!" like it's supposed to justify mass murder and destruction.

He's a thug. He's been one his whole life. And for the last 40 years, on some level, I craved a connection with him, mostly because I grew up with the mistaken concept that blood family means something. It does for my Mother. She's got an amazing connection to her siblings to this day. They see each other all the time, laugh, have dinner, hang out all the time. It's what I saw growing up and thought was the norm.
But it's not the norm. And it's taken me years to realize that I will never be connected to my brother. Mom used to tell me to stop in and see him on the way to see her further north. When I did, he'd spit coffee on my shoes, insult me and I wrote it off to the family penchant for being smart asses. I remember when I was in my late teens, something I said pissed him off and he wound up slamming me against a wall. I should have known then there was something broken in him. But you're supposed to love your family and forgive, I was told.

But today I decided to stop that cycle of bullshit, to stop being a part of it, although I suspect Mom will be very hurt that I didn't go to my sister's 60th birthday party. I told them I was sick. And I did feel sick. Not just the tail end of this flu bug I've had, though. Sick to my stomach that I felt like one more thing out of big brother's mouth and I'd smash him in the head and kick him off the 19th story balcony at my sister's condo.
Our family would never admit it, but we have a lot of rage and anger and a history of violence. I suspect we're not uncommon, but denying the existence of a violent streak is a truly human habit. My long dead father got in a fistfight with my Uncle Richard who I never met before I was born and they didn't talk again for another 40 or so years.
My dad was a screamer and a laughter and lived large, mixing intensity with a sense of humor. But my eldest sibling somehow lost a lot of the old man's laughing side. Or maybe he's not a thoughtless and subtle homophobic creep, and among his pals and the "normal" folks he's a charming sweet guy.
Yeah, right. Never mind.
I have noticed that Sweetie and I do push a lot of buttons in folks with our brand of queer, although making other people comfortable by not being yourself is a way to madness, illness and an early death.
But I feel like there are some lakes of shit you have to stop swimming in if you want to be happy, or at least want to overcome feeling the family rage and anger.
It's never easy walking away from family, but it's harder to cling to the idea that after a lifetime of having coffee spit on your shoes, being dismissed for being weird, and just being around the angry spite filled bozo radiation that comes from old white baby boomer guys that anything is going to change.
I will never understand why my dead cousin, my dead uncles and my brother are so mad. They got it all, power, money, control over their lives and the right to marry who they want, and to not be given the beat down for being queer or of color. In a lot of ways, they own the world, but still they hate, spit on and hold nothing but anger and disgust for folks not like them. Why so often I feel like they just wait to pick a fight with somebody, often me.
And guess what, fucking Thanksgiving is just three weeks down the road!
I get to go to my nephew's house and guess who's going to be there?
Big Brother!
I am for sure leaving axe handles and my very large pistol at home. And I'm sort of glad that my nephew only has a two story house without a balcony, because I doubt I'll be full of warm fuzzy feelings. For Mom's sake I'll try and be civil. But I still carry around the same family anger issues. And I will fucking stomp any more bullshit like a roach, or leave.
Holidays are such piles of expectation, but with family they're more often steaming piles of shit.
Sometimes so much shit the happier family members feel compelled to dig through the pile to find the pony.
Good times ahead!

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"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson