The walls have remained the same—off-white walls with the imprint of dirty fingers near the doors. It is five long years since I was in my parent’s home. I mull over my last conversation with you. Sitting across from me at the restaurant, the table shook when you banged it, rattling our glasses, your rage exposing your fragile heart. I did not speak then, but I will speak now. Mikey, this is my story and it could be yours too.
My parents are not responsible for all the problems in my life. Ha! It is true that in a moment of anger, my mum flung her high-heeled peep-toes at me. But for crying out loud, I ducked with the agility of a teenage athlete, and enjoyed the small victory of seeing for a second, the remorse on her face when her shoe hit the wall and rebounded with the broken heel coming in second place. She has paid enough, and the statute of limitations has run its course.
And what if my dad never said, “I love you,” and never attended any prize-giving ceremony where I stood on the podium looking and hoping, from primary school through secondary school and up till my graduation from university? So, he didn’t know how good I was at Scrabble and how deftly I could steal two-hundred-pound notes while playing Monopoly?
For goodness sake, he put a roof over our heads, we ate until our little stomachs protruded like a ball, and our summer dresses, which caught the wind and ballooned when we twirled, had pink flower petals and yellow butterfly patterns. He spelled L.O.V.E. in a different way, and I refuse to let my juvenile fantasies of challenging his authority in a boxing ring follow me into my twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties.
So your parents expressed their frustration at your (“un”)reasonableness by acting as though you would not amount to much, swearing with their nostrils flared and their breath coming in gasps. Did they not spend time correcting you so you would amount to much, and when they realised that a life sentence in jail for killing you was not worth the trouble, hired the services of a private tutor? Let it go. Grow up and stop holding a grudge.
Do not tell a shrink the stories that you should reserve for your grandchildren and write the shrink a fat cheque afterwards as if you had twenty-five hours in your day and as if you do not have bills to pay.
Dad and mum, you are officially off the hook. My mistakes are my own, born of foolish choices. The things you forgot to warn me about, I could have found out. All those times when we sat (you on the red armchair and I on the cream sofa), and I wondered who taught you to lecture, pretending to listen, so you could congratulate yourself for passing on great wisdom, I should have paid attention to the pain in your voice brought on by the memory of bitter experience. I could have asked and you would have told me more, so much more.
My mistakes are my own. Despite all you did to set me up for a good life, I chose the life that brought me pain, that brought you pain, that brought us pain. I do not blame you and you should not blame you. We have life, we have hope, we have faith, and we have love. You could not buy the sun even if the central bank printed more notes.
Enough already! Everybody stop crying; say, “Cheese,” and face the camera!
© Timi Yeseibo 2013
Photo credit: ©Lisa Runnels/www.pixabay.com (used with permission)
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