It’s been doggin’ me all week.
Last weekend, I attended a 50th Anniversary reunion at Playmill Theatre.For the happy version, visit my travelogue: http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com/2013/06/playmill-theatre-celebrates-fifty-years.html
I put a lot of pressure on myself to “get it right” in Yellowstone. My last two trips were pretty disgusting. I hitch-hiked out of the Park in 2007 to get away from the nastiest, bickering old friends of mine. All I could think was how we were traumatizing some granny from Iowa on a Bucket List trip of a lifetime to the oldest national park in America. They were screaming at me at a rest stop and cursing, so I just walked away and stuck out my thumb. I still can’t get that horrified woman’s face out of my mind. (I am proud of my behavior with those two hostile people. Never once did I participate in kind. But I was still there to be a scar on some innocent midwesterner’s experience of a thrilling, beautiful place.)
The second, in 2010, was all my fault. I flipped out on an ex-boyfriend, when I should never have agreed to a road trip with him. He’s jealous, judgmental, and not very bright, bless him, but I am responsible for my behavior! He was just so negative and controlling. It’s still up to me to behave. I didn’t. I’ve used my sharp tongue to destroy more than one person in my life. I recognize that it’s not my fault that childhood abuse formed neurotic pathways in my brain, but I am determined to exorcise verbal violence from my toolkit before I die. ‘Til then, I have some real self-loathing to contend with when it comes to certain memories. That trip is one of them.
Right now, my memory of a good weekend is marred by an argument with my sister. I didn’t make it out without another fight! I’d had such a wonderful time, and one phone call ruined everything. Ugh. I called to ask how long she thought it would take to drive through the Park. I wanted to see the Wyoming side of the Tetons with joyful reconnections fresh on my mind, to replace that drive in utter silence with my brutalized ex. I wanted to see it… clean. But I’d have another hour-and-a-half to get to Rexburg from Jackson. Better off just to drive the hour-and-a-half from West Yellowstone, we determined.
“What’ll I do all day?” I laughed.
“I have a big dinner planned for the afternoon,” she offered.
“Oh, Mel,” I lamented. “I hope you can understand why I can never come into your home while he’s there [her husband].”
“Well, he didn’t come in when you picked up the car,” she pointed out. (Why would I suspect that he’d be home on a Thursday? In any case, I wouldn’t have gone in if my nieces hadn’t wanted to show me their new kittens.)
“Okay?” I wondered.
“And when I asked if you could use the car, he said, ‘Yes, that’s very important to her.'”
“I appreciate that.”
“And he did all that work on it.”
“I thanked you for that, too, and it needed to be done anyway.”
“I’m just trying to tell you he’s not the monster you think he is.”
“I never said he was a monster. I know he’s a whole, complex person. But he did a monstrous thing.” (And, still, no one has ever apologized.)
“He loaned you his car, Christie.”
“I borrowed my sister’s car.”
“It’s ours. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Click. Just like mom. (“End of conversation.”) Just like Christmas 2011. (“I don’t want to hear it.”)
I texted that I was prepared to disagree and maintain mutual respect, and would have preferred a good-bye to a hang-up. She claimed that she said good-bye, then repeated how generous Dan had been with that car. I gave in to childish rage and replied, “Well, if I owe Dan my honor and reverence for your car, I guess you share responsibility for running me out of your home that Christmas. You say your piece, won’t hear mine, he’s the muscle that shuts me up.”
She still pretends he never attacked me, when she’s the one who held him off of me! She’s delusional, and I’m sick of everyone in my family putting words in my mouth, drawing conclusions about me, and telling me what a horrible person I am!
In West Yellowstone, I saw the shuttle bus. I had no idea they’d extended the route. I knocked on the door and said to the driver, “You mean I took the Express to Rexburg to borrow my sister’s car to drive here, when you could have brought me?”
“Don’t you feel stupid now?” he teased me.
Boy, did I ever the day I drove out.
I hate my family and my role in it. I hate that I can’t stop playing my part perfectly! And then I blame them when they don’t see me as anything other than an ungrateful child. I hate that I am the only one who’s willing to acknowledge fault and still come back and try. I can’t anymore. I’d already made peace with that, but I didn’t realize I can never see them again. It SUCKS.
So I didn’t have time to drive through the Park. I decided to stop by the family cabin, which my grandparents sold in the 90s. Island Park is too crowded now. The cabin is different. And run down. I focussed on the happy memories made there and took a small walk.
Then I went to Mesa Falls, where Melanie took me in 2007 when she rescued me from the angry lesbians. I hoped to spend some time sending her love and gratitude. The thing about my sister is that she truly is the kindest, purest, most sincere and beautiful human being EVER. She only wants love and happiness for everyone. But she puts blinders on to feel it! And she’s as big a dictator as mom ever was. She will not listen to anything I say. Not even to learn that I’m not the monster she clearly thinks I am!
I couldn’t find Mesa Falls. It was the stupidest thing. The turn off said 14 miles and it never appeared. I went back and forth and back and forth, rereading every sign. I couldn’t find it. I felt like such a failure. All I wanted was huge water to deafen me and wash the ick off of me of total failure, yet again .
Mel standoffishly drove me to the shuttle stop, and I blathered about how great the trip had been just so we wouldn’t sit in silence.
In fact, I wish I hadn’t gone. I think/hope that will pass. Good times were had. Just not enough to justify how much money I spent to see and do things I’ve seen and done a million times. Especially when I failed to just get along, already! I really hate my family. I hate what it means to be in my family: that we do not tolerate difference, we do not listen to one another, we do not apologize. We do not, according to my definition, actually love each other. Or if we do, we’re really bad at it.
To me, my family means failure. “If you find yourself continuing to speak to someone who cannot hear you, then neither of you is listening.” — Charlie Morris