I miss my mom and dad. If someone had told me that I would feel this way when I was 16-years-old, I would’ve laughed and said “Yeah right. My parents sort of suck…” and gone back to dyeing my hair purple or whatever other gay stuff I used to do when I was “straight.” Like most teenagers, I had a rocky relationship with my parents and with good reason. When I was fourteen, my father remarried and moved to Los Angeles to start a new family, which left me with a mother who, by all accounts, was quickly unraveling.
Countless honest conversations and one successful stint in rehab later, my parents and I finally found common ground with each other in my twenties. Now I’m sort of obsessed with them. I miss them all the time and I know for a fact that I call my father more than he calls me. It’s funny to think about how tumultuous the relationships used to be. I recall the things I used to say to them as a surly teenager and cringe. How could I be so cruel to the people who loved me the most? Then I remember that that’s how it usually works. You hurt the people you love the most because you can.
My family isn’t normal. Big surprise. What families are? But when I went away to college and was introduced to a diverse group of friends, I would hear stories about their upbringings and be horrified. As much as I felt like my parents had done a crappy job raising me, I couldn’t BELIEVE what some other people went through. I no longer had a right to complain. As flawed as I felt my parents were, they loved me to pieces. That’s something I assumed all parents felt for their children but after hearing about other people’s experiences, I became not so sure. Was it possible for a parent to not love their own child? Even today I don’t know the answer to this and it’s probably something I’ll never know. When it comes to other people’s families, you don’t have much insight into what is really going on behind closed doors.
During college I began to appreciate my parents more. Absence had certainly made my heart grow fonder and it’s only increased since I’ve graduated. In the past year or two, I’ve frequently felt “unsafe.” I don’t mean to say that I think someone is going to break into my apartment and kill me. Rather it’s a different kind of vulnerability, more subtle. I moved 3,000 miles away from my parents four years ago and I still miss them every single day. They’re the reason why I know I’ll eventually move back to California. I have guilt being in New York because what if my parents die prematurely and I’ve missed out on their last years? It sounds morbid but I think it’s something a lot of people feel, especially as they see their parents get older.
I’m going home to California for a month for the holidays and I can’t wait to just feel safe in my dad’s house and feel safe in my mom’s house and hug them and tell them how much I love them. Because I do. I love them very much.