10 August 2008

Home Again

Charlie and Max can't get enough of me.

That's how it's seemed since I got home last night. I don't mind; in fact, I never mind when they want to give or get affection. If I did, why would they be the fourth and fifth cats I've had in my life?

Why, indeed, should we choose anyone to accompany us through our lives? Sure, some people are useful; others are necessary. But the ones we bring in to our circle; the ones we enfold in our arms: what other reason is there?

Then there are the ones we must have: the ones we have whether or not we want them. And, finally, there are the ones we simply can't not have, and who can't not have us.

I guess family falls into the last category. For some people, it's the worst sort of bondage there is. I know at least a few people who left their parents or other family members over things they did in the name of "love." But for others, including me, there is no choice but we choose it anyway. At least, I now realize, that's how I feel about my parents. And I suspect they feel the same way about me.

We all agreed that the week went well. I just talked to my brother Mike, and he says that's how Mom and Dad described my visit to them. There were a couple of awkward moments, but I felt that this trip affirmed the love--however complicated it may be at times--that we have for each other. I'm sure that, at times, they probably wish I could've continued to live as I had been. That's how they knew me for 45 years: someone who wasn't quite a normal guy, who possibly wasn't straight, but was their son.

But they did not distance themselves from me. When we went out to eat, when we went shopping, walking and to a movie, we were at each others' side. They called me by the name my mother would have given me if I had been born--at least if I'd appeared to be--a girl. She did not have that opportunity; instead, I took it. I'm happy about it; I think she--and he--are happy at least for the fact that I'm happy, if nothing else.

And they know that I am grateful for that. In fact, there is nothing I have ever experienced for which I am more grateful. It made the visit possible; it is the reason why they've offered to accompany me to the hospital when I have my surgery.

They have never been the most demonstrative people in the world, and I doubt that they ever will be. But I think they realize that I love them unabashedly because--well, because that's the only way I can love them. Because I am now unabashedly myself. And they know that. Mom has said as much.

Although the week I spent with her and Dad was fulfillilng, I cried as I was packing to go home. This is only the second time in my life I can recall feeling sad upon leaving. When I was younger, I--like most young people--wanted to get away. And I did. I forged a life seperate from them: one that they neither could have imagined for themselves nor chosen for me. It was the best I could do for myself; still--at least for me, anyway--it was a step in the "right" direction because it took me away from their walls and led me to things that opened wider than their windows. But sometimes I'd feel sad about it, for the same reasons I felt so the other night: that they should have had the opportunities to visit and live in the places I've seen and inhabited and get the sort of education and have the other choices I've had in my life.

One of those choices was to pursue what I need for my own happiness and fulfillment. Some might think that's a selfish, egotistical pursuit. What that means, of course, is that those people wish they had the opportunities and whatever else it takes to live a life of their choosing, on their terms.

Sometimes, though, choosing is one of the hardest things to do--especially when you have no choice but to make the choice. Mom and Dad are discovering this, I think, as they cope with pain and other physical diminishment--and the depression and anger that they feel as a result of it, and of all those things . They--especially Dad--are coming to terms with the aftermath of various trials they've had in their lives. They are doing so as they turn 70. I thought it took a lot of work for me to unravel--as I turned 34-- the feelings and other unconscious manifestations of the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for them--especially Dad-- to deal with the detritus left by the storm of childhood traumas.

I've had the opportunity and resources to reclaim myself from those who would and could have taken my life--literally as well as metaphorically--from me. I wish Mom and Dad had that chance earlier in their lives. What that means, of course, is that I sometimes wish that earlier in my life I had made the choices I'm making now. And I wish I could've given myself the choices that Mom and Dad are helping to make possible now.

Oh well. I hope I get to see them again soon--certainly before the operation. Mom and I were talking about that today.