…It was all meant to be
Kids are curious. They want to know what’s in things, under things. How things work. They’ll keep tinkering and toying with something until they get it. Later in life, that can turn into snooping. I’m guilty as charged when it came to snooping. It was how I learned about my parent’s dysfunctional marriage, an institution that lasted 42 years too long.
I was about eleven or twelve, that age when everything starts making sense, when I went looking under the basement stairs. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I found a lot in a box that contained my father’s documents, letters, files, and a lot of cash. I also found a handwritten letter from my mom to my dad, which started out with something like this: Since you’ve said to me that if I want to talk to you, I need to put it in writing. So here you go…
That was the joy in which I lived. My parents didn’t talk. They didn’t even share a bedroom. That basement? That was the room I shared with my Dad. Who wouldn’t be curious about their own roommate?
The letter went on. Something about, I can go get this sucked out of me if that’s what you want. That something? Me. I was the third child. The third after a six-year gap. I was, though it was never said, the mistake. The oops baby. I’ll never know what happened in those tail end years of the 1970’s. I don’t want to know. I do know that my fate was on the table. I may not have been here.
The rest of the letter spelled out the options my parents were considering. Separation. Divorce. Continuing on. Time moved on, and I lived with their unresolved tensions since they never came to a decision. But one thing was certainly decided: keeping me. Whether my life made their relationship better or worse, it’s hard to say. There were good times. But there was a lot of pain. Either way, I do want to thank them for that moment, whenever it was, that worked in my favor.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.