My Own National Lampoon’s Vacation
A multigenerational vacation where you’re the youngest member of the family with everyone living with in close quarters for a week can be incredibly stress inducing. The anxiety of making a misstep, saying or doing anything to trigger a response from the humans who share some genetic code with you is enough to keep you up at night. I should explain that I haven’t been in this situation since middle school, when I was in the throws of what I now understand to be the start of my ongoing existential crisis. I went through some trauma with those I was raised to believe were my parents were actually my grandparents, my mother played the role of a significantly older sister and everyone else in the family was fully aware and never showed their cards. This hit me hard, an emotional betrayal regarding my very existence. While an answer to “how the fuck did my parents have me at such advanced ages” was given, it gave way to the unsolved mystery of my biological father.
“Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?” Tyler in “Fight Club”
All of this occurred right as I bloomed into my adolescence, told that I wasn’t to share this fact with others introduced a great amount of shame in me. All of those questions of “Who am I?” were amplified and I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone in my family about it. I started to drift away from them and threw myself into part time work and school, kept my family at bay and only attended obligatory holidays where I knew my absence would be akin to treason.
We now return to present day. This house has largely remained the same, it did not remain entirely static, but all the memories of youth came flooding back to me. My meekness of being the child in a house with an aunt and uncle I only knew from our yearly trips down south remained in the forefront of my mind. Now while I also remained fairly the same person I had more understanding of the world around me, motivations of others and have had enough years removed from the angst ridden years to see everyone as a person with their own struggles, anxieties and fears. I see photographs of a time before I was born, which reminded me that there was a life that these people all shared before I entered into a stream of consciousness. All of their experiences snapped who they were, just as the person I am now is the sum result of my experiences.
I see my grandmother, the woman who raised me as her last child in her last years and know that regardless of whatever may have occurred in the past has to be left there. Mortality is humbling, it does put things in perspective. I know that right now, I need to be present in the now for the greater wellness of the family. We’re all broken people and while the first few days I’ve spent on this trip have forced me to relive memories (both good and bad) the dysfunction will go on unabated, but in that dysfunction there is a bond that as much as I’d like to pretend I could ignore, has hit me in the face and opened my eyes to the tragic reality of the situation we’re all in, collectively. A finite life that no one gets to try-over again, we’re being pushed forward and if we keep looking back we’re never going to be able to prepare for whats coming next.