21 February 2006
Family is a mirror you keep covered. Relatives you never see, whether you'd choose to or not, do not know you. They remember the newborn, the toddler, the awkward teen. There are always a few from the wedding and baby showers, but still you're not a real person to them; after all those times are about being a couple or parent.
Changes you make, real changes, to your soul and to your life, go unnoticed, unless they make trouble. Big events like death or divorce are heard about and taken notice of like an accident on the highway. Feel bad, move on, and forget about it, but never take into consideration that someone else's life could be completely ruined, at least for the moment.
But my life is no one else's (this much I have been painfully aware of) and I have lived my life without serious regard to how most of these relatives have existed day to day. Why should I be so surprised to discover that they, too, have done the same?
Maybe this means I don't know who I am yet, to be so upset that when I walk into a room full of people who have supposedly known me all my life and find that they really know nothing about me. Of course there are lots of people I don't know, attached to people who were probably newborns or toddlers I can remember, but do not recognize now. And babies have been born that I might hear the names of, and people have married, and divorced, and died. And I feel bad and move on. And forget. Because the kids need to get their dinner, or there was a fight and bitterness lingers, because the kitchen needs picking up or the groceries need putting away. Because my life is happening right now, right in my face, and the people whose lives are ruined, even if only for that moment, and despite their status as 'family', are just other people, like so many faces I pass on the road during the commute every day.
The tragedy of it all is astounding. As children we all grew up together playing in Grandma's backyard, or sneaking out during a sleepover, or getting someone to buy us cigarettes. Now things like this are only distant memories, and the cousins you did them with are like characters in a book you read years ago. These things will never happen again, and the people you did them with are just other commuters, other homeowners, other people with kids you might pass in the store. No matter how fond those distant memories are, the things that make you who you are, the things that make you unique and interesting, will never be shared with or understood by anyone except...yourself.
Exceptions apply, but I do not speak in ideals here. That is for the Good One. The things that make ME unique will only ever be understood by ME. And now I've become bitter.
There will be another episode to pull the cover down, the main event as it were. I will make I am neatly groomed and my tie is pleasant to glance at, knowing that these are the only things people will see when they look at me and think of who I am. And then they'll go about their lives once more, remembering that the newborn I was, the carefree toddler I was, the pain-riddled teen I was, has grown into a man who has a nice haircut and seems to have turned out just fine.
It is selfish of me to think this is important; it is arrogant of me to even pass judgment on them for doing it.