People say that smell is the sense most connected to memory, but I think music is more powerful than anything smelly (unless it’s that weird bread-air at Subway and I think JUNIOR HIGH FIELD TRIP!!). I’ve been listening to Van Morrison a lot this week, while hermiting out for the first time in a while. My parents listened to a lot of Van Morrison when I was a kid—Moondance brings me to my childhood and its maudlin imagery: pictures of moments when parents were together and we lived in houses I loved and I felt wrapped in comfort. Wah wah, I used to be happy in a family. I hate myself for being sentimental about it, but I really did have a great childhood. My parents entertained at home all the time, and to this day the most comforting feeling is falling asleep to the hum of people gathered downstairs…usually with this song playing.
I’ve never really felt too sad about my parents not being together, because I know their divorce was for the best. I don’t really know why I’m doing it now, when things are getting more tense between my parents—probably because of new money concerns and the palpable discomfort of my dad’s knowing about my mom’s serious boyfriend. Writing this entry is probably the first time I’ve really cried about the fact that I don’t have happily married parents. Logic usually prevents tears: I reason that many people these days have divorced parents; I know none of us were really happy when my family was all together; and it was just one of those inevitable things in life. It’s easy to reason myself out of feeling sad, until I think about all the good times I had growing up, being the only child of married parents. I wrap myself up in the memories and realize that those times are worth something to me.
So when I talk about being homesick, it’s about more than missing my physical home. I’m remembering my childhood, and my family the way it used to be, before the divorce. And when I talk about growing up, that’s what I’m growing away from. I’m deserting all these perfect memories to do my own thing, become my own person. I’m ditching my childhood.
I know my memories of my childhood are more golden than the real events that created them. But those recollections are so crucial to my understanding of life, and my first experiences of happiness, that growing away from them leaves me feeling somewhat…empty.
Then, though, I remember that that Golden Era ended when I was 12, when my parents separated. They finally divorced when I was 15, I think. I’m not leaving anything behind. Those golden times already ditched me.
My mom’s constantly apologizing to me for “what happened,” as if you can just sum it up like that. The “what” she’s referring to is still happening—the consequences of divorce. The money quarrels, my confusion, navigating ex-marital minefields and needless complexities. I usually avoid having feelings about any of this, just so I can get through life day to day. Besides, what’s the point of dreaming of alternatives, of should-have-beens and expired wishes? They don’t exist. My parents are divorced for this and that reason, and so I have to deal with these and those results. Realizing that the good parts ended before I decided to grow up makes it a lot easier to grow up now. I just have to remember that the memories I love stopped production seven years ago. ♦