February 13th, 2009
Other dimensions fascinate me. I admit to believing in the possibility that perhaps we live parallel lives. One of us is on this plane, living according to the decisions we made throughout our life, and our doppelganger is somewhere else entirely, a product of the choices we might have made, but didn’t. Rather, I’m not sure that other dimensions exist, per se, but more that we create our own dimension in which we live, and that it’s comprised of what we see, how we process information, and who exists in our little world.
All of this is to say that there are different realities for all of us. You know those books that address the same incident from contrasting perspectives (Suite Francaise comes to mind), and how you, the reader, gain insight into how each character views the other or a shared event? I’m struck by how completely differently each person sees the same exact incident. But it’s to be expected. Surely the drunk driver experiences the crash contrary to how his victims do.
Still, I find myself expecting others to see matters like me. It always surprises me when I learn that The Rock did — or didn’t — enjoy the party as I did, or that what I perceive as a horrible thing, he sees as a blessing. How many times, after hearing of a friend’s divorce, do I say, “They seemed so happy!” and The Rock tells me in all practicality that you never know what’s really happening between a couple.
This all came back to me during a recent conversation between my dad and I, which turned up all sorts of information I never knew when I was a kid. Seems there was a whole bunch of Desperate Housewives stuff going on in our little pastoral neighborhood that I didn’t notice. So again with the different dimensions. The adults operated on a separate frequency than us kids, and I don’t know why, but the adult me wonders how I didn’t see what was “really going on” between couples or in the families of my friends. But of course, those concerns didn’t reach me. The adults sheltered us from them, and kept their arguments to bedrooms or after 11PM. To boot, us kids were only interested in other kids anyway.
I spent a lot of time after talking with my dad thinking back. Were there signs that Mrs. C was an alcoholic? I idolized her family, and spent a lot of time playing with Sheila, the oldest of the C’s. I often coveted Sheila’s red hair and cheeks, because they reminded me so much of my beloved Raggedy Ann books. Plus, all of the C’s did well in school and seemed the ultimate perfect ’80s family. But now, yes, I think, yes. Mrs. C. wore those frayed white old school canvas Keds without socks, to me a sign of an Midwestern alcoholic housewife, and we always found her in the kitchen, sitting at the table, ostensibly doing — what? Maybe now I know.
Disconcerting of all was knowing that during the happiest time of my childhood — when my family stayed put in one town for more than a year at a time, and I made friends, real friends, that I knew from grade to grade to grade — my dad cheated on my mom. Actually, I knew this shortly before my mom passed away, when she shared stories of her life with my sister, who lived at home during the time. My mom never told me, because I’m sure she knew how I’d react, but my sister needed me to know.
I don’t know why, but it freaks me out that not everything was as it seemed during this time in my life. It’s so important that I know this happy time was happy — for real — and for all — and not just in my head. I can’t say for sure why this is, but there you have it. My mother was miserable when she found out about the affair, and I go back in my head to this time in our household, and now recall how she spent an awful lot of time in bed, and the hushed voices coming from my parent’s room. My dad traveled extensively — at least two weeks out of every month — and apparently he met the other woman in England. As usually happens, a letter came to the house, and my mom opened it. Once she discovered the details, she wrote the woman back, enclosed a family picture and told her to back off. Then, she gave my dad an ultimatum.
He stayed. But even now, he won’t read my mom’s old journals because he can’t bear to read the pain. And I can’t stand to not have known it was happening. How queer that this drama unfolded as I blithely did homework, climbed trees, planned birthday parties.
I clearly remember posing for the picture above. That it was used to convince my dad to stay with the family is another one of those “realities” I suppose it’s necessary I know.
Still. The doppelganger me chooses to let this time be as happy as I remember it. In fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way.