I guess my chronic loneliness started with my parent’s divorce. The ultimate unraveling, so to speak. There’s nothing quite as painful as ripping the threads of your family apart, particularly when I felt, as a ten year old, it was entirely their fault. Couldn’t this have been avoided? Eight years later, I’m able to understand more; emotions they’d hidden to protect us finally bubbled up to the surface. One crisp winter night, my dad and I were swimming in his modern pool at his modern home. He always disregarded trivial matters like the weather. He was the chief. My baby half-sister had already been rushed inside by her mum, in efforts to warm her before bedtime. It was just my dad and I; rare, rare times. “Dad,” I asked hesitantly. “Who asked for the divorce?” My dad replied it was my mum. “Do you know why?” I’d never really asked much about the divorce, nor were they ever bursting to reveal any details. It seemed he still wasn’t quite bursting; he paused a while before half-answering. “Yes. But I won’t tell you everything until you’re older. No one deserves to hear about their mother like that.” The moon glowed behind him so greatly all I could see was his silhouette. It was a bombshell, so casually dropped. This was secret Hollywood marriage level bombshell. His response only stirred the desire to know everything more, but he was stubborn (I have another seven years to go). But even knowing this, knowing that my sweet, loving mum essentially destroyed my father (who, I learned from her, begged her to stay if there was even a one percent chance. He loved her so much he’d take one percent of her love), I blame them. I’m a teenager, it’s practically encoded in my DNA. It’s they who unleashed an emotional kraken within me, one that flipped my boat of happiness and plunged it down into the loneliness of the sea. How often have I stared at a crinkled photograph, capturing lost promises and broken cities, and wanted to rip it in two like they so cleanly did when I was ten? I put it on my wall before I hurt it; photographs are the only proof I have. I can’t imagine how my parents struggled with this decision. At first, I dimly remember, they reneged on their divorce and said they’d “work things out.” As parents, how could they trade our happiness for theirs? I hope now they’re okay with their decision. I hope they think it was worth it.
I could never have anticipated the way we are now. In the midst of the tears my parents left in the wake of their divorce, I could never have imagined a time when having a stepmom, a half-sister, and a half-brother would be--don’t say it--normal. I could certainly never imagine a time when I’d feel comfortable being alone. My brother and sister left home at the same time, though four years difference in age. My brother, to an elite boarding school three hours away. My sister, to a private university an hour away. In reality, it could’ve been much worse. But I had never known a world, or even a house, without their persistently annoying and loving presence. The day they left, (it was the same day, naturally), I waved goodbye and watched as they pulled away from the driveway, from me. Once I made sure the car wouldn’t be returning, I retreated up the stairs to my bedroom, noticing every fissure in the wood, put on a record, and laid on my floor. I laid there for hours, devoid of emotion. I was empty, a cavern of a person.
It was like a stadium turning dark. The bond between us three is unique, with my parent’s divorce uniting us at one entity. One atom, split apart. Disaster. Even still, I want to keep them forever. I’m still on the hunt for some hole in time and space where we dwell for eternity, fighting and laughing and loving. It’s the same for all my family; I wish to preserve them. They grow and evolve so fast I can just barely catch them, like a dandelion being whisked away by the wind. Sometimes, I feel like a dandelion myself. Pulled away against my will. Just once, I’d like to be the wind. I’d like to be the wind and live forever, because I am, unfortunately, a doomed human. I fear death in a way I yearn not to. The thought of my body turning still, this body that’s survived eighteen years, succumbing, giving up, and my eyes never opening again...it scares me, all right? The unknown. All those memories fluttering away, flimsy as tissue paper. I hold them as close as I can before they submit to being forgotten. There’s something about this life that’s so alluring, and I’ve decided it’s love. It makes everything worth it. And since I am eighteen, I believe I will live forever, even if just for one more irrational moment. How am I ever supposed to pass this knowledge on? My baby sister is so vibrant, so carefree, so uninhibited that I already dread her becoming the drone school shaped me into. Knowledge frees you from ignorance, but at a price. It conditions you in the oddest of ways; my eyes have been wired to see a line and color within it. What a silly thing to teach a child. Is it that important the kid learns to color in the lines? Let ‘em scribble for Christ’s sake.
It scares me that even now, as I sit here in this one moment, these words float away and become the past. Everything is the past. The present cannot exist. These thoughts overwhelm me. How do I stop it? This cloaked figure in white who’s not vengeful but strict, Time? We’re all just side effects of time. Once, when I was ten or so, my mom pulled up at a stoplight next to a minivan. I looked over to the driver, and saw an exasperated, exhausted woman. Besides the fact that she drove a mom mobile, I knew instantly I didn’t want to become her. It was something I couldn’t fathom back then, still a somewhat hopeful ten year old, but now, eight years later, I understand her. And I’ve become her. I was driving to school with the rain thundering on the roof of my car. Before leaving, I’d been studying one of my favorite photos of us; a faded photo booth picture comprised of four shots, and in the last shot, my siblings and I have exploded into fits of laughter so all we are is a blur. In the car, Ed Sheeran came on the radio, whose mission in life is to make people sob. Needless to say, I was grateful for the stoplight, since the road was blurry. For some reason, as I lay my head against the car door, I wondered what people saw. Suddenly, I was ten years old again, looking into the car adjacent. But instead of the woman, I saw myself. It was inevitable. It was the wind.
I wasn’t ready to be left by my siblings. I wasn’t ready to be rendered so vulnerable, so alone. I am so sad, but I cannot help to be so happy. I learned a long time ago neither can live without the other. My mother, seeing me in my graduation cap and crying. My dad telling me I’m special, for the first time. My brother, sobbing, telling me he’s proud to call me his sister. My sister and I, singing Abba as loud as our voices can carry. Carrying my little sister up to bed; rocking my newborn brother to sleep. Sadness and happiness are eternally intertwined in my life; because saying goodbye to the moments that make me happy fills me with undulating sadness. These moments are filled with love, so the meaning of life, at least mine, must be love, which only makes Time look even crueler. I’ll be the dandelion any day if it means I get to keep them. But it means I must first let them go.