parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Sunday, March 25, 2007
    My Growing Up Process
    Something that's been on my mind:

    When I got married the first time, I had just turned 21. I had graduated from college approximately 6 months earlier; I graduated college in May, and was married in December.

    I remember when I returned to college for my Junior year. It was my second year living away from home, as my parents made me spend my first year at a local commuter college, because they didn't feel I was "mature enough" to live out from under their watchful eyes (100% based on the fact that they were aware that I had a sexual relationship with my boyfriend during my senior year of high school). I had needed my car, because I had acquired a position with the University's Student Government, and had a lot of responsibilities that would require transportation - especially in the kind of "city" where I attended school. There was no public transportation . My little car couldn't hold everything that I needed and we didn't quite trust that it wouldn't crap out on the way, and so my parents drove the 10 hour drive in front of me -- and my siblings came along, too. I think they all went somewhere for vacation after dropping me off.

    I distinctly remember the distaste I had for my parents. The feelings of leaving my home town was a euphoric one - that there was nothing worthwhile there, nothing for me. I wanted so badly to be out - not only from the town, but from my parents' home.* It was the same three months previous - when I left college after my first year away from home. I remember lying on the back seat of their car, wracked with depression over the loss of the independence I had found, even in the very strict confines of my college environment. It also had much to do with the isolation I was returning to. Going from a closed campus, where I saw every student at the cafeteria (at least) every day to my parents' home in a rural town felt like torture.

    Similarly, when I returned to my home town after college graduation, I was miserable. Shortly after my return, however, my BFF from college joined me in home state, and I found a renewed love for New England. I was facing my upcoming marriage, thought I was leaving for ever (as my fiance was in Birmingham, Alabama, where I would be joining him, and where he was applying for post-law-school jobs), and was starting to understand it was "time to grow up." These positive feelings continued through my departure. Ahhh, home. Let me breathe it in and enjoy it while I have it. One particular day in late August, I remember driving on the freeway, on my way home from work. I had the windows down at the end of an 85 degree day - dressed in a sleeveless dress. The wind coming into the car was cool with impending fall, and it was so delicious on my skin, in such a "late summer New England" way. I was sad that I was leaving, but happy that I knew what it was, and how it tasted.

    Throughout my marriage to the ex, I lived far away from my home town. Every time I came home - regardless of the time of year, I drank it in. I loved the rolling hills - whether they were green in spring/summer, white with snow in the winter, or gray with pre-spring barity in the late winter. I loved the rocky landscape, and the sound of the crickets and the birds.

    During and after my divorce, however, I went through another period of shunning my roots and origins. I wanted nothing to do with my parents, nothing to do with "home." I hated going there, I hated when they came to visit. I envisioned judgment at every turn - from my parents, from their friends. Even the rocks embedded in the hills of New England turned my stomach. I assigned to my parents the very roles they had when I was a teenager.

    I often look back and think that the reason for that - for my negativity during a time where perhaps (and only perhaps) cleaving to my parents would have made life (temporarily) easier - was due to the fact that my childhood and my early adulthood did not allow for a true growing up, or a true coming into my own. That for me, shedding that child-like marriage was the same as shedding childhood. I needed that separation to find me - the real Zuska. I could not cleave to my parents - to my home town - and still find what was important to me. I could not re-set my goals.

    So I stayed away. My parents were hurt by my behavior, and still talk of that time as a very sad one for them. But I don't think it was my job, at 28 years of age, to placate my parents. I've told them honestly - I needed both the emotional and the geographical distance in order to become me. I had to find ME.

    But once I found me, I went back. I was able to embrace my parents. I was able to return to my home town without feeling the judgment (or at least not on the same scale). I was able to think of me, Zuska, as being "from New England" - and was able to enjoy the rocks again. The snow. The smells and the sounds. I don't enjoy it, as I did just after college, as the kid who lives with her parents. I enjoy as a separate person. An adult. With kids of my own, and a husband who I love, and a new life being forged. Such a different life, too.

    I am happy with the balance I've found. I am happy with the dance of closeness/distance that I created. Both with the people and the locale of my origins. I can see where I come from - its weaknesses and its strengths, and either improve upon or incorporate them. Sometimes, the weaknesses creep in and I don't see them - they're in that blind spot** that's in front of your face. Sometimes I shun the strengths without realizing what they are - but I'm always trying, and always aware, and I'm not rejecting for the sake of rejecting.

    I feel like I've come to peace with where I came from, and where I am, and where I'm headed, and how the first relates to the last.***

    *This desire was equally strong a year previous - when I left for Virginia the first time. However, when my parents decided - approximately 3 weeks before my departure date - to take in an "exchange student/teacher," and that she could have my bedroom ... I was highly affronted. This was not only upsetting as I was forced to clean my room "company-style" while readying to head off for college for the first time, but remained a point of contention. Really, to this DAY I harbor bitterness. Like over the time that I was home for spring break, and the law office I'd worked for in the past called with a one-time job for me - requiring my car - and I went outside to get into my car (which I paid for in full - purchase and upkeep, but had left home while at college because parking was not available for Freshmen and Sophomores), and watched as the "exchange student" drove it down the drive way to meet a friend for lunch. Not to mention when she would gleefully tell me in her Mexican accent that she was now my parents' oldest daughter, and that I was therefore her little sister, and must listen to everything she said. Bitch. No, fucking bitch.

    I have very deep-seated issues regarding my parents and foreign exchange students. When I was even younger (13? 14?) we had a person come for a month or so from Spain. She was a tad younger than me, but her arrival created such fervor in my house. Oh! Let's impress her!! She wants to go to Washington D.C.? well then, let's take her to D.C.!! What? Zuska's wanted to go to D.C. since she was 2? Oh, well, then doesn't this provide the perfect opportunity!!" I hated her. And therefore, when I was forced to go to Spain to visit her a year later, I hated that too.

    Zuska was an idiot in her early teens.

    ** Thanks to Anonymous Law Student for this link - although try as I might, I could not make the damned spot disappear.

    *** This does not mean that I've outgrown being embarrassed of my parents. I mean, geez. When you go to a restaurant, can you please, please, please!!!! try not to YELL? I mean, seriously. Must you say "SO, J., DID YOU LIKE BEING IN A PLAY!!!" she's across the table. It's a narrow table. So narrow that there isn't room for your plate, her plate, and a roll of paper towels (yeah, it was that kind of restaurant, and I was still embarrassed). Some things never change. Yet, when I ask my dad to keep his voice down, I'm wracked with guilt. I read every face he makes as he tastes his food as sadness that I said something. I worry that he's embarrassed, and that my saying "dad, shhh!" hurt his feelings and ruined his visit. Agh!!! Why the HELL did I talk of "peace" up there????

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    posted by Zuska @ 7:22 PM  
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