"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." Opening sentence from THE GO-BETWEEN, by L. P. Hartley
Nothing like a family for keeping secrets. All the accumulated skeletons in closets that reach back for generations, no wonder the clothes are just piled on the floor. My mother told me of my less-than-welcome origins as I was driving a car on the freeway. In the same wheel-jerking conversation, she also told me, placing the blame entirely on the father-to-be, whom she did marry, of an attempted miscarriage. Yet here I am, like the lizard that I hoovered up from the kitchen counter in our old house (reptiles, not so much) and who could not, would not be shaken from the vacuum hose, stretching out his four short legs and refusing to be (a) sucked into the vacuum or (b) shaken out in the garden. I left the hose in the yard; eventually he climbed out. Ah, but he never left the area around our front door. I felt half-way haunted. Maybe my parents did as well.
There are revelations which make things clear. Then there is the leaked information that just makes it all murkier. But for a while - a few days, a sleepless night - it seems that here, at last, is THE unveiling which will pull all the threads together. The truth is, when these glimpses of what might have been, had one but known, come so long after the fact they actually have little worth. In the metaphoric house of myself, I have chosen to leave great piles of old business on the table.
I have written that time has a fluid quality for me, as though it - at least all the years I have experienced - is a vast lake upon which I am contentedly adrift. Yet within the anti-structure of this liquid state, there are rules. Chief among them is the necessity of moving ever forward. From either a movie or novel, absorbed at an impressionable (aren't they all?) age, comes the image of a wagon train as it rolls out of the last civilized town. Soon the pioneers are lightening the loads which slow their migration; hope chests and harpsichords left at the side of the track.
Time-lapse photography would show my wake littered with jettisoned encumbrances...most of them recently discarded. One Peruvian worry doll bound and overloaded with a Pandora's box of trouble, that has been me. Let me see how much of this I can keep hold of. Is there more duct tape or fishing line?
Yes, it is our stuff, after a fashion, though I swear, in great measure it is as much hand-me-downs as the exotic, grown-up clothes my aunt passed along to my grade-school self. Stories for another day. I believe it may - still trying to have this somehow notarized or chiseled in stone - be possible to outgrow the need to suffer. I know that I lack the tolerance for more than one fitful night of sleep in a row and whatever has brought on this disquietude has to go. If it is my mind trying to bend itself around facts that are no longer relevant, good God, woman; write yourself a note asking if you may, please, be excused from participating. Here, on this side of the lake, it is 2010. We may float past 1955 or 1948 or 1963 in our meanderings, but we no longer live there. And whatever they try to call out as we glide by, the words are inaudible above the gentle splash along the sides of the boat. We can no longer hear the message; it doesn't matter.