Things You Realize About Your Family When You’re In Your 20s
I hate the way my mom chews. It’s pathetic. Her mouth is agape, there’s usually some sauce dripping from the corners of her mouth. There’s nothing dignified about it. Chewing makes her look like a beggar, like a ravenous psycho, like someone who is not my mother.
In other depressing news, I think I might be smarter than my father. I don’t want to be — it’s a depressing conclusion to come to in your mid-twenties — but I’m realizing more and more that it’s true. My father, for all of his amazing qualities, just isn’t that smart. I wish I could never see it, I wish I could never see my parents for anything other than the all-knowing beings who brought me into this world but ignoring their flaws gets harder and harder as I age. It doesn’t make me love them any less. It just makes me think. Finding out that your parents are people too with their own unique set of failures and shortcomings is sort of like finding out Santa Claus isn’t real. I never wanted to know. I wish they could’ve just kept feeding me the lies so I’d feel safe.
My father’s entire side of the family is comprised of the most boring people I’ve ever met. All they talk about is Oprah, food, weather, and boring gossip about their neighbors. I try to engage them in more substantive conversation but it never works. They retreat like a pack of frightened dogs and act lost whenever I bring up something like politics or even relationships. “Yes, yes, that’s nice,” they’ll say to me with a blank stare. “But did I tell you about what happened to me at the checkout line at Ralph’s the other day? Oh, you wouldn’t believe it!” They’re boring people who love to talk, who love to spin these mundane webs of stories that never seem to have a punchline or a point.
I hate having these thoughts and it’s even more painful for me to write them down. I’m aware that I sound like a churlish, critical asshole but, honestly, I’m not. It’s just that every year I go home for the holidays, I discover more and more things about my family that I wish I never did. It’s not like we were ever perfect or I put them on a high pedestal. In the past, however, I used to accept things blindly. I never questioned their opinions and logic. Their way was the right way because I had no other point of reference. Ignorance was, in fact, bliss.
I love my family with all my heart. When I went away to college, I began to realize just how lucky I was to have two parents who loved me unconditionally and didn’t fuck me up in the head too much. That being said, I don’t think I would ever hang out with them if we didn’t come from the same gene pool. As time continues to pass, I feel myself becoming more and more different than them. Any personality traits we shared by virtue of us all growing up together are dissipating. I don’t think they really “get me” now. They view me more as a foreign object that’s landed on their doorstep during the holidays. They’re not sure what to do with me. What is this thing in our house? Unfortunately, the feeling is mutual.
It’s an important lesson to learn though, this idea that you can still love someone even if you don’t actually like them. Like, I love my parents more than all of my best friends, even though talking to them is difficult, but in the end, you don’t need to have things in common with your parents. If you do, it’s like an added bonus. “Oh, I came out of your vagina AND we like to hang out together and go to the movies? Awesome!” The bond speaks for itself. It transcends common interests. When you think of it that way, you realize just how beautiful the concept of family it is. They’re strangers you’d take a bullet for. No, not strangers, that’s too harsh. But something like it.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.