by: Dorianne Laux
I had a boyfriend who told me stories about his family,
how an argument once ended when his father
seized a lit birthday cake in both hands
and hurled it out a second-story window. That,
I thought, was what a normal family was like: anger
sent out across the sill, landing like a gift
to decorate the sidewalk below. In mine
it was fists and direct hits to the solar plexus,
and nobody ever forgave anyone. But I believed
the people in his stories really loved one another,
even when they yelled and shoved their feet
through cabinet doors, or held a chair like a bottle
of cheap champagne, christening the wall,
rungs exploding from their holes.
I said it sounded harmless, the pomp and fury
of the passionate. He said it was a curse
being born Italian and Catholic and when he
looked from that window what he saw was the moment
rudely crushed. But all I could see was a gorgeous
three-layer cake gliding like a battered ship
down the sidewalk, the smoking candles broken, sunk
deep in the icing, a few still burning.
Let me tell you now that I love my family, each and every member. That doesn't mean that I agree with all of the things that everyone does. I think family members can be petty, cheap, vindictive, stupid, controlling, and shortsighted. I accept those shortcomings in the people who are important to me. It's who they are, for better or worse.
I come from a pretty passionate group of people. Everyone believes they are absolutely right. All the time. And they like telling me how I should live my life. I have learned to listen to them, sometimes argue with them, sometimes ignore them, and then I do exactly what I want to do. That's how I survive.
Saint Marty is sort of a black sheep, but at least he's sane. Sort of.