She grew up in a household where her mother was good at disappearing.  Then *Iowa disappeared. [*name of  boy] Weeping and reflections included.

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“As my intoxicated father once put it in a very awkward conversation he pursued about never having unprotected sex because if I did, and every time I did, “it would kill a baby elephant in Africa.”

If there is such a revolting thing as “love,” I’m pretty sure it’s reserved for the lovers and not the lonely. Please Universe, let me have been born to be one who is of “the lover” kind. Maybe this makes me soft, and maybe I don’t know what I’m asking for, but dammit I want to fly drunk on love’s wings someday — someday soon preferably. Please, and fuckin’ amen.

After a pretty terrible fail at self-pleasure, my lilac cotton panties with Iowa’s name sharpied across the front — as if the thought of him alone would spark an orgasm — were as dry as before the start of this venture. I fought with the dark to find my current MIA light switch beside my bed. Instead it became more plausible to get up and throw open my sad attempt at homemade curtains, an obvious DIY fail. As I stepped off my bed, my head spun like the glass mixer part of a Slurpee machine at 7Eleven, and I fell into the window. I could hear my dad’s old favorite words,“Natural spaz just like your mother — only she had to take a handful of Hallucinogens before reaching your normal state.”

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Somehow, even at 10-years-old, I knew something was off about his comfort level and openness that was laced with misplaced pride in sharing such private information with me. Thank goodness my mother had left Boston and high-tailed to Nevada to live a life of “perpetual solitude” with her 19-year-old rare-find Native American boyfriend when I was six. Otherwise, from the little I remember of her, she had a way with throwing solid punches at my poor oblivious father’s face whenever he brought “bad karma” into our household. How he summoned these negative vibes was never able to be thoroughly explained by my estranged mother. In my opinion it was just her excuse to take her islander temper out on someone, and she knew he was a pushover who would never stop being in love with her. According to my mother dearest, it was either she or the universe who could slam him for his unseen acts, and of course she preferred herself. I don’t entirely understand how she conceived her actions to be on the opposite side of her ridiculous accusations for my father, but she was always as ironic as her $9.99 beauty store weave.

I never think too hard into it — I’m just glad all six feet of her Caribbean voodoo self left while I still had a chance at learning how to be human — not that my father, who was born to a confused skin-head and the self-proclaimed, unaccredited queen of the seventies feminist hippie movement, did that much more of an appropriate child rearing job. Somehow the two of us managed to be a pretty reliable team, like Bert and Ernie. He always made sure he was plugged into my life — especially when we would eat ramen noodles and watch re-runs of Ninja Turtles together, or when he would give me important fatherly advice on teenage life lessons while he was incredibly high.

As I scrambled in dizziness to secure my footing and angrily rubbed my forehead on what would undoubtedly become an epic welt in a few hours, I blinked back expected tears. I knew why I wanted to cry — and not because my forehead would soon look like an alien landing zone — but because, what had the meaning of my twenty-four year old life become after Iowa broke up with me? He claimed that he was “falling too fast,” and was unable to do so if he wanted his new career as a publicist to work out.

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I recently became comfortable with onset, middle-of-the-day, loud and embarrassing weeping sessions. I indulged in all of Iowa’s favorite things to pretend it wasn’t over. I started only eating bulk amounts of veggie chips and various cookie dough, and watching random Youtubes of violent subway fights. Worst of all, at any given hour, when something even remotely brought up a hint of familiarity or nostalgia about Iowa, I turned off my lights, closed my curtains, hid in my bed and tried to spark some sort of tingle down under in my “No Unprepared Mans’ Land” as my intoxicated father once put it in a very awkward conversation he pursued about never having unprotected sex because if I did, and every time I did, “it would kill a baby elephant in Africa.”

Of course I found my father’s philosophy to have more than a few holes. First off, I was in tenth grade and not some Santa Claus-believing-in child when he proposed this extreme notion to me. Also, it just made me kind of angry the way the popular lip gloss-wearing girls did when they stared at my favorite glitter-tank-with-flared-khakis ensemble in disgust, as if the teenage mess I was could expect never to lose my virginity in all of my high school years. They were right, but it only took one week at a liberal arts college and ecstasy for it to be easily kissed goodbye to some boy who I’ll never be able to remember, first name or face.

Plus, I knew my father had only thought to give me “the talk” after approached by my Catholic high school principal when a nun found me sitting atop a closed toilet bowl, smoking a cigarette and flipping through nudie magazines I confiscated from my father’s under-the-left-sofa-cushion collection. Mainly, I resented the fact that he used my favorite mammal as his storyline’s sacrificial offering.

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[photographed by Heleni Flessas]

As I landed solid footing, and somewhat-calmly watched the tears stream down my cheeks and onto my Cyndi Lauper T-shirt, I could only imagine how far gone I had become since the break-up. Sometime in the near future my tears alone might be able to help me win a wet T-shirt contest against my will. I reached for my laptop and typed a very sensible wall post to Iowa: “Please come back, you’re my greatest treasure. Without you, I’m a pirate who’s shipwrecked.”

I think it was more my crazy imagination, but it seemed like the screen began screaming very mean and vulgar things at me about how if I pressed post, I would be a total-loser-idiot-face. Then the screaming turned into my father’s voice, dazed as always:

“You’re not learning to disappear. Remember what I told you about your mother. She knew I would always be there, following her around, wanting her — needing her! She was the complete epitome of a female dog — I say that loosely because she was more of a donkey than dog in my opinion. Anyway, what I mean is, if he loves you, he’ll come back, and if he doesn’t, good riddance. I bet you’ll find that the thing you think you’ve called  “love”  is  really just infatuation, and when some lucky bastard child finally does find out you’re the latest greatest best thing on Earth, you’ll understand it better. I wouldn’t know, I guess. But I got to be your father, and you and I, we, were a pretty damn good duo. You have to learn to let go and disappear so whatever is worthy and real can come find you. I love you. Let go.”

And with the fact that I had just received a life lesson from my father who was really my laptop screen, I whole-heartedly back-spaced my pathetic rant to Iowa. I looked into the screen and took a long cathartic breath. Let the disappearing commence — and with the reflection of my huge prize welt staring back at me, it’s probably my best bet anyways. — INNY TAYLOR

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