I’ve noticed more and more that I have to come home from visiting my family and wait for the Butcher to leave so that I can have a good cry and get on with my life.
I get tired.
By the time we left Coal City, I hated it and almost everyone in it. The folks I didn’t loathe, I stayed in touch with. The one person I did loathe who I can’t get rid of, I learned, over the last fifteen years, to finally have a little mercy on and, on both ends, I’m better for the effort. But I was not well by the time I left there and it took a long time for me to be well again.
My dad still wants to drive us over there to look at the church and drive by the schools and look at the houses of the people we used to know. And I caught him telling the church secretary about how much kinship I still felt for the people there. And I’m baffled, still, by that.
I don’t expect anyone else in my family to not like that place. I just never knew they didn’t know how much I hated it.
It’s weird, how families are. How, on the one hand, you can feel all this kinship (ha) to them because you go through so much together all that OFST crap we were taught but only I still can’t shake off (Our Family Sticks Together), like some kind of malformed street gang.
And then, you can be standing there listening to your dad, holding the hand of your nephew, who will later on in the day tell you about how his dad likes to take him to bars and get drunk and you will feel, both at that moment in the church, and later, when you hear that, like you are somehow tied by blood to complete strangers, who remain utterly foreign to you, no matter how long you know them, and it will be, at that moment, that old impulse, the impulse you always felt on that ground, to drain their blood out of you, the thought of their blood touching you, inside you, too much for you to handle.
“Head for the hills,” they always say, when folks are trying to escape trouble, and I’m always glad when I can get in the car and drive, first across flat land, and then over more and more rolling hills, down the ridge, across the river, and safely home.