Never in my sick yet idyllic adolescence did I ever think that my mother and I would have a spat ringing with my own hormonal rage and rebellion, that I previously thought dormant within myself. Unfortunately for my pride, an unbalanced pituitary gland got the better of me, and the past week has been one of estrangement and belated coming-of-age for myself and my dysfunctional family.
The relationship between my mother and I has, ever since Le Divorce, been turbulent at best, although one would never guess it from the cool, calm exterior that both of us worked so hard at to show the world and delude ourselves. Frankly, we resented (resent?) each other for shallow reasons- I for her choice of a man that would feel at home riding the bull in a lower Arkansas strip joint, and she for my sullen intellectual superiority over the rest of the family, and my slight yet stinging barbs that she could never prove were more than innocuous. The details of our fight are really over a simple misunderstanding- I had failed to call her over a party that I was planning on going to. Like all feelings, I can recall the rage that swept over me at the time; but it is like the memory of an injury, you can not remembery why you had cried out in the throes of the pain. I finally good on my life-long threat to "go live with my father", packed up a few things, and left.
All of my runnings-away are the same, even the ones where I would pack up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bike to my girl friend's houses when I didn't feel like cleaning my room. It's cliche really- you want an escape, realize it, and then appreciate what you had at home. My father is a good man really, and I love him with all of my heart, but he does not understand the nature of women, and he thinks of me as a rebellious brat who is looking for a cocaine rush and sex with faceless men. (Okay, the "rebellious brat" part might ring true, but all of the rest is merely his projecting fears of his own adolescence onto myself). Staying with him was peaceful; a hippie at heart, I reaqquainted myself with Joni Mitchell and John Denver, as both of us sat together in front of a hazy sunset over a rocky shore to try and pick up the fragmented pieces of our lives. Alcoholism had ruined any hope both of us had for a "normal" family, and while we can talk about anything from hair to Heinlein like a normal father and daughter, there is a sort of undercurrent of resentment and passive-aggressiveness that is characteristic of almost everyone in my family. But I think my retreat has changed me, I no longer resent what is inevitable. To risk sounding banal, I am learning to count my blessings and enjoy our strange relationship- his warped sense of protection and my "know it all" attitude that it provokes.
As for my mother and I, I am learning to appreciate the path she chose vs. mine. In her days women didn't pursue the careers of thought and theory. You were practical and went to college to pick up an MRS degree... god forbid you actually went there because you had any sort of intellectual curiousity about anything. Middle age has aroused her latent intelligence, and she is coming around, to the point where her advice now extends beyond my finding "a good man". My mother once told me to find a rich man. I replied, "Honey, I AM going to be the rich man."
I wish I could think of myself as being above and beyond teenage angst. Fortunately for me, I can now see how fun it really is, and remember the self-centered ness of my high school world in years to come with both joy and regret; adolescence is my playing ground for idealism, before I must inevitably turn my attention to more practical matters.