Airport Thoughts

I am waiting for a flight to take me home to the little college town where I live, a home far away from my family. For the first time in eight years, we took a holiday trip to see my parents’ parents and siblings, which resulted in the predictable reversion of my folks to their childhood defense mechanisms. For all of their flaws, my parents are usually not actively hostile or cruel, and they’re usually honest, if somewhat reserved in what they want to talk about. They also usually get along perfectly well with one another. Suddenly, however, in the presence of either of their families, they bitch and snipe behind each other’s back, and they also cannot stand me. It is difficult enough to convince my parents that I am not a completely worthless fuck-up on a daily basis, but when I am failing to get along with their families, I am such a failure.

I have no response to my aunt’s accusation that I read old books for a living just to make her feel stupid. I don’t know what to say when my drugged-up grandmother tells me I remind her of a granddaughter she had. I have no response to my cousin’s declaration that he intends to forcibly impregnate his child bride as many times as physically possible in the coming decades in order to prove that God loves him.

The nice part, however, is after we’ve left, and gotten home, and my parents are tired of yelling at me for not being more charming, and they suddenly realize they might be the lucky ones.

I hope you all had a beautiful holiday season. As for me, I’m just looking forward to 2012.

6 responses to “Airport Thoughts”

  1. Tim says:

    Families are like packs of animals, aren’t they?

  2. Josh K-sky says:

    My therapist introduced to me the term “undifferentiated mass of ego,” used in family systems therapy.

  3. lane says:

    ur a kansas literary tornado…

  4. Marleyfan says:

    At the risk of sounding like my sister, I am so sorry you had to go through this. Maybe it doesn’t help much, but I think most people are pretty dumb. Yet, maybe I’m kind of dumb too, because I find myself judging my family at the holidays. The only difference is, I don’t let them know what I think!

  5. Dave says:

    Gah. Family systems theory gets it right. It’s amazing how even the most functional people can revert hardcore to nasty old patterns when family is involved. Very difficult stuff to work through.

  6. grateful says:

    Your second paragraph . . . three sentences and wow. I’m one week into two full weeks in a single house with the entire extended in-law family, three of whom have fevers and three of whom are vomiting a lot and all of whom have their hands all over anything you might have thought you wanted to eat, and the water only works sometimes (wait, you wanted to flush the toilet?), and the sibling dynamics are flaring, and the nightly board game gets nastier and more fraught every night, and yet . . . it’s really pretty fun. When I read your chilling second paragraph, I look around at all these people and think, oh yes, I really quite like you all. The part where you get home and your parents start to appreciate you must, I hope, make the whole menagerie worthwhile.