Day 1 (December 20) — 10:38 p.m., Sitting in my childhood bedroom
I am sitting on the bed in my childhood abode, staring at the crucifixes on the wall and giving the stink eye to the Sean Hannity book “Let Freedom” that’s mocking me from the bookshelf. My mother (Mavis) has thoughtfully laid out my old equestrian hat and other horsey items from my childhood as well as my tattered and dusty monogrammed Mickey Mouse hat. Why, oh why? I find this weird and I’m slightly suspicious as to her intentions. Oh yeah, I know: “Let’s make her feel right at home as the 12-year-old I’m about to revert her back to for the next six days.”
Mavis picked me up from the airport as expected. I made the sign of the cross as I always do (“Honey, it’s so good to see you praying. Are you saying grace before drinking that latte?”). I have not been the passenger in her car since November 2010, and her driving skills have gone steadily down a steep and treacherous hill since then. She can’t stay in the lanes, she can’t merge, she drives 45 mph in the fast lane with her blinker on, and when she does change lanes, she slams on the brakes and then switches lanes. One of these days, the keys will have to be taken away. I fear that day. She’s a tough broad, and my father (or whomever) may need to pry said keys from her cold lifeless hands.
On the way home, we talked a little bit about this, that and nothing, avoiding anything meaningful that would spark a disagreement or argument. And then….true to form, she mentioned that diabetes runs in the family and overweight people are more prone to developing it. (Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.) And that she and Dick (my father) are in excellent health; they don’t drink any alcohol and they exercise a lot. I guess excellent health doesn’t make one a good driver. Just saying.
Let’s pause here for a second. I don’t want to sound like an ingrate about my family. (There are so many people without family, and particularly at this time of year, it must be difficult.) I do love them despite their flaws, and I know I’m always welcome here. But sometimes, I just don’t like them. They drive me crazy, both literally and figuratively. I don’t blame them for my depression. I blame no one. But they certainly can exacerbate my illness. In fact, some of my family members could teach a class called “Depression Exacerbation 101,” followed by “Advanced Passive-Agression 402” and “Applying Guilt Effectively 404” (both graduation requirements).