Thursday, March 1, 2007

Family Tree


The last time I saw my sister, I didn’t recognize her. We hadn’t grown up together, she was really my half-sister and seventeen years older. Every year, my family drove to the state where my mother’s family lived, four households within three blocks of each other, a week at each house, all together out to the cabin with every bedroom full, kids on the living room couches, kids in tents on the lawn, bonfires, games of catch, skipping stones, the year the tree was struck by lightning, old home movies, the Bear Story, don’t tell when you’re taking a shower or you’ll get a bucket of lake water thrown over the top. Then we went to my father’s parents for two weeks. Then we went into the city and saw my half-sister and brother for one day. One lunch. Then we drove back home. I did not think this was weird until I was nearly twenty.

At thirty, I had not seen my sister in ten years. Or maybe I had for a lunch or two – I saw my brother as often as I could, we’re a lot alike, and I think he hosted some lunches when I was in town that included her, but I more remember his boyfriends and his nine-thousand-dollar-sofa (made in Italy, fabric made in France, both shipped to the US, then shipped back to the UK for putting together, then shipped back to him). They were trust-fund babies, from the first marriage.

My father arranged a little reunion – by coincidence, we were all in the same city, and we met up at a little steakhouse, an independent place with a private dining room. There was a patio just outside to smoke, though everyone but Husband and me smoked inside anyway, including my 15-year-old cousin. Husband and I were the first to arrive. Second. There was a heavyset woman, at least sixty, bloated, overweight, shiny-skinned, sitting with a dumpy older man in an ill-fitting shiny suit. Friends of Dad’s…?

“Hi…”

“Hi, long time no see, yeah?” And the voice is my sister’s, what is my sister’s voice doing in this stranger’s body?

There was dinner. It was irrelevant, saving only that I would have ordered a slightly more expensive dinner had I known my father was paying. My brother told the waiters to stop bringing my sister Bloody Marys, but she wasn’t far enough gone to miss the change in taste. It was only a small scene. After dinner, Husband and I were very quiet, both on the same page.

A year later, I went to the city to be the family member who was close enough to be family but untouched enough to deal with details. My sister’s estranged-but-not-divorced husband fought us for an open casket and won. Her boyfriend showed up in the same dumpy suit, the family cutting him as much as possible as he drifted around describing what she looked like when he found the body. At least we closed ranks. I arranged my father’s plane ticket and hotel room, I can’t remember where I stayed, it wasn’t with him despite him asking, at the end of the drunken night where he told me both that he didn’t think my other brother (still at home) was his child and that, had it been my face the lid closed on, it would have killed him. I couldn’t stand the smoke.

What’s the difference between a Muse family wedding and a Muse family funeral?

One less drunk.

How's that for Half-Nekkid Thursday?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

families can be very, very strange like that.

Great pic, by the way!

Alex

http://clearslate2007.wordpress.com/

Francesca said...

We don't choose our families. It is strange how we just accept somethings about our families and traditions as children until it occurs to us when we are adults to question and to open our eyes. I just accepted my Great grandmother having a different last name than my grandfather. Only as an adult did I find out that my biological grandfather went out to the field one day and never came back. We all have some interesting family members.

Tom Paine said...

Fabulous legs!

Anonymous said...

All families have oddities...by the way did you see the court case involving 'incest' between a stepdad & (22 yr old) stepdaughter? Wonder what your raction would be?
oh yes, fabulous legs!

Blissfully Wed said...

Life can be way too unnecessarily difficult at times - or at least very interesting. Sorry you had to deal with complicated drama there.

Oh, and of course, fantastic legs you've got. ;)

Al Laddin said...

Fucked up families.

My middle-aged cousins and my brother and I spend hours roaring over the exploits and mis-adventures of our wild, wicked, drunken, brawling utterly fascinating parents.

Really AWESOME legs, Mandy.

Really.

Pete from Cal said...

a lovely self portait. Fabulous legs so show them off! :) thanks!

Cain said...

Oh, an HNT, from you!

(How did I miss this???)

Happy(belated) HNT!

Very nice legs! :)

xx,Cain.