unfinished business

I’ve been in a pretty deep depression for over a month now, and it’s not getting better. Stress at work has been increasing, and I’m not doing well. I had my scheduled visit with the p-doc yesterday, and he will have me try some Wellbutrin to help with the nearly constant depression. [Side note: I’m still glad I found this doctor, because he actually listens and interacts with me rather than just telling me the same “stay the course” bullshit.]

In the midst of this depression, I all of the sudden get the bright idea that I finally might like to go back to the old hometown and relive some memories, see things close up and personal that I left behind 30 years ago. Sure, that seems brilliant. Call it the Unfinished Business Tour.

I’m not exactly sure how this would work. Fly back to Sacramento, drive to Goldville and Treetown, and then what? Look at the ruins of the houses I used to live in, or get chased off by dogs or drug dealers? Take photos that Google street view can’t provide? Go stand by A-mom’s grave and reminisce about how fucked up life was for both of us? … Maybe. Maybe that is exactly what I need to do. It will be painful and depressing, and it will stir up lots of bad memories, but somehow I wonder if I need to do that one more time just to put some of that to rest for good.

The other thing I would like to do is just drive around in my part of the mountains, smell the pine trees, see the stars away from town, visit the old campground, take in the natural beauty of the Sierras one more time. Maybe I can visit a couple of friends, but maybe I don’t even want anyone to know I am in town. I’m torn, because if I visit one person, then others find out, it becomes a fucking circus, and I want to avoid that if possible.

My wife asked the same question, what would I do if I went. She also asked if it was something I needed to do by myself. I told her I wasn’t sure about either answer. She still has a brother and three nephews who live in the area. I think maybe if she wants to go, she can go, but if she wants to stay home it would also be okay.

e-mails to never send

Thanks to the Internet, we now have the ability to harass people from our distant past. I searched for the Old Bitch’s daughter on Google, and in about 2 minutes I had her full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and e-mail, plus husband and kids’ names to confirm it was her. Turns out she is in her 70s, and she hasn’t moved from the house where I visited her many years ago.

Anyway, I’m in a dark sentimental mood today, and I wondered what it would be like to write her a little note asking a few questions. It might go something like this:

Hey Wanda,

I’ll bet you remember me, I was the little kid that A-mom adopted way back then when she lived with your mother. Boy, your mother sure fucked up my mother and I. Why did you let her live with us in Treetown while you escaped to the Bay Area? Did you think it was okay to let someone else deal with your aging, mentally ill mother while allowing us to visit for a few days once in a while? You and your sisters wanted nothing to do with her, while A-mom served her and endured her abuse and bullying day and night for 20 years. Your mother needed a care home, and instead she got two people who were not equipped to deal with her illness. When you finally allowed your mother to come live with you, she left behind two people who were barely able to function for themselves and who were emotionally damaged to the breaking point.

I don’t blame you for what your mother did to A-mom and I, but I would like some answers why you thought it was okay to allow us to care for her instead of you and your sisters taking care of her. I would like you to acknowledge that you knew the situation we lived in was messed up, you did nothing to help, and you took advantage of us.

Sincerely,
Fishrobber

Funny thing is, back in 1994 maybe, my wife and I were going to a football game in San Francisco, and on a whim I decided to drive past Wanda’s house. I had not been to the house in 14 years by this time, and of course I had never driven there, but I knew the streets and the landmarks well enough from memorizing maps as a kid. To my wife’s surprise, without backtracking or u-turns, I drove directly to their house. Wanda wasn’t home, but her husband was in front of the house, washing their old pickup truck, so I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. As an outside observer, he agreed with me that “the situation there was pretty messed up” (his words exactly), and he wished Wanda were home so we could talk. I had to get going though, so I thanked him and we drove off. I guess what I got from her husband will have to be good enough.

cheerleader

All parents are cheerleaders for their kids to a certain extent, but my A-mom was the whole squad. As I got older it became somewhat embarrassing when she would tell people how smart I was, or how good a singer or musician I was, or how skilled at baseball I was. Even if I was proven to not be the best in some of those categories, she would stubbornly hold on to the belief that I was better than anyone else. She would complain to the coach when I didn’t get enough playing time, and she would tell the choir director that I deserved a solo when I really didn’t. I was her precious genius with superpowers, and she mollycoddled me to the point of smothering.

Despite her being a cheerleader for me to the rest of the world, she never seemed to encourage me very much at home. She never sat down and said “you can make it through college, you’re smart enough.” I felt like my motivation to succeed at my education came from myself, partly to escape poverty and avoid being white trash, and partly to prove wrong the people who told me I wouldn’t amount to anything.

I wonder if she didn’t feel like she could help me anymore once we escaped the abuse in Treetown. Maybe she felt like I was grown up at that point, which was far from the truth. I wish I had had someone to help me through the transition from high school to college, but the reality is I did it all by myself. I don’t think she wanted me to leave home, and she was secretly happy when my first attempt at freedom failed and I moved back home.

I don’t want to be unfair to her. We were poor, and we didn’t the financial opportunity to take advantage of special tutoring or coaching or music lessons. In addition, we were recovering from years of abuse at the hands of the Old Bitch, and we were both still in a raw emotional state, trying to figure out how to live a normal life. We needed therapy more than we needed music lessons, but we had the mistaken belief that Jesus would help us more than psychiatrists.