“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Tragic Backstory Category



I am going on a journey.

I’m taking a trip back in time. I am packing for me, my husband, and our toddler. We are loading up the car, and we are traveling back to a time and place when things were simpler – or at least seemed that way. I am thirty years old, and in a week, I will be thirty-one; but for this one trip, I get to go back and live in the past – be myself at 8 and 11 and 14 and 21. The past whispers to me, as we settle in the car and get on the road, following the lane markers up the interstate on this drive I have made a thousand times before. I feel all those memories, all the laughter and the mistakes and and the misunderstandings, brushing against me like the wind. Our history can be such a palpable place, just stepping foot in a building can bring back this oppressive feeling of presence, of a time gone by, of people who were once here, once important to us, and now are gone.

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Talking about family is difficult for me.

When I was younger, I thought my family was perfect. Spunky and a little loud and a little odd, but in all the best ways. When I was older, teenage years, early twenties, I thought my family was unconventional, maybe dysfunctional; but all the better for it.

In my mid-twenties, I thought the very existence of my family would crack me apart, from the inside, a great splintering, a great shattering. I wasn’t supposed to talk about it much, then, and I’m not really supposed to talk about it much now, for convention’s sake, for manners’ sake. So I don’t.

At thirty, I have decided family are the people we choose to be close to us, the people who may not always be related by blood, but have proven they will cherish us, and protect us. My chosen family is no less holy and divine simply because we are all friends who grew up in complicated families, with loss, with disappointment, with hurt and battered feelings. We are closer for it, because we know what it means to lose the familial ties, those traditional roles. We know what it is to be envious of a family whole, with two parents and siblings who get along, and grandparents and aunties and uncles who treasure your precious self, just as you are. We try to be that, for each other.

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Sorrow & Memory

Sometimes memories are beautiful simply because we know how damaged we were in that moment, that hour, that day – and in the present, we can look back on that former version of ourselves and understand what even still was waiting for us. How we managed to blunder through and come out the other side breathing.

I think back to a dorm room with sickly florescent light, knowing how lonely and sad my little sister was to be there, and how desperately she was trying to fake it for my mom. How we both were. I remember a store-bought chocolate cake eaten on university supplied couches, the fabric scratchy under our hands, catching on our clothes. I remember the empty hollowness that followed us around all day even though it was a remarkably warm day for January, the sun bright. We fawned over books and beads and Greek food as we always did, but we did it with the knowledge that we were all kind of bruised and limping. All of us faking it just because even one of us giving up and lying down on the side walk, please no more,  would have given the other two permission to do the same. The car ride home, just my mom and me, both of us trying to play at normal and both of us just tired. So tired.

Funny how time goes on. Funny how you can think you were completely exhausted and at the end of your rope with no more drive to try. Funny how you do keep on trying because what the hell else are you going to do.  Giving up would be weakness, the one weakness we crave more than anything. Not being weak becomes the only lifeline we have left to hold.

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