That’s What Family Does

I didn’t bite the bullet and get a car on my own. I didn’t even think I wanted one until I got a call from my sister, who said that my dad had gotten a new car, so he was letting her take over the payments on his car, and wanted to know if I wanted hers.

Ummm, yes.

Not only is it a manual transmission, a total theft-deterrent device because I’m old and young people don’t DO stick shifts, it’s a hatchback. Literally the car I would have been looking for had I wanted to buy on my own. And, as a total Dr. Who reference, it’s a 2007 Yaris… bigger on the inside. I will become, as my friend John says, a “Yarisian.”

It was enough to make me tear up, because when it arrives, it will still smell like her. It will still smell like home. My dad was so funny, because he called me and asked me what kind of lunch meat I would like in the trunk. If you are not familiar, there’s a thing in our family that I named “Lanagan Lunchmeat Syndrome,” because when I lived in Alexandria, my dad sent me an old Mercedes. I drove it around for six weeks not knowing what the smell was, and I finally took the liner out of the trunk and found a pound of sliced turkey that had probably fallen out of a grocery bag in 1999.

Lindsay came to visit Kathleen and me when my mother’s choir was singing at Carnegie Hall so that we could have a night in DC and then road trip up to NYC the next morning. She was eating a sandwich, and six weeks later, I found half of it under the driver’s seat.

When I moved to Portland, I had a Saturn that was killing me on payments, so I sent the car to my sister, Caitlin. I went eight months without a car, and then my dad sent me his old car, a Ford Focus, complete with a hot dog in the back seat.

Then, when I upgraded to my Jeep, Dana left a Subway sandwich in my center console…. but thank God it was still wrapped. I wasn’t so lucky with Lindsay. 😛

It hearkens back to my early childhood, when my mom, dad, and toddler Lindsay were taking a road trip to visit my grandparents in NE Texas. Lindsay, from the back seat, was feeding my dad Nacho Cheese Doritos. He ate three or four of them and then remembered we hadn’t stopped for snacks or anything, so he said, “Lindsay, where are you getting these Doritos?” “Off the floor,” she replied. My dad said, “LINDSAY!” She said, “Daaaad. It’s ok. I checked ’em on both sides and they’re not dirty.” That’s my Lindsay. She has been a cutup ever since she learned to talk. Hasn’t changed much in that department, and her Kate McKinnon impression is so good it will leave you in stitches. My favorite is when she does Kate playing the mom playing “Grand Theft Auto.” She is literally my favorite person on earth, and we’re going to have lunch the next time she’s here for a conference in Annapolis. That is something for which I am having trouble waiting.

Lindsay had a thing when the driver was ready to load up my car, so Matt (her husband) took care of it. I called him and thanked him for blessing me over and over, and he said, “that’s what family does.” I teared up a little and knew he was right. I can’t wait until I am in the position to return the favor. I have sent very small gifts to my friends for their patience with me as I’ve begun this journey toward wholeness, but I want to do more than that. If I won the lottery, which is impossible because I don’t play, I would buy houses and cars for everyone that has stuck with me over these past few years, because that is what they deserve. I hope the sentiment counts, because I am so grateful… beyond belief, really. I have not been in a space to give back much, because I had (have) so much work to do on myself before my cup was full enough to give to others.

When I was in the thick of my mental illness, I think people thought I was some kind of borderline personality, incapable of seeing anyone but myself. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I care so much it hurts. But when you get down to a place where you can’t even function, it’s hard to care about anything but sleeping to get away from the madness. My life had become so small, so insular, that I realized I was on a path of total destruction, and in Argo and Dana’s case, mutually assured.

Speaking of Dana, I wrote to her and told her it was time to get a divorce. All we need to do is file the paperwork with Multnomah county. She’s going to take care of it and send me a copy. If I don’t contest it, the marriage is dissolved. I hope the state of Vermont is just as easy, because I want to be truly divorced from Kathleen as well. The legal advice I got back in the day was just to let it go… we didn’t live there, so why bother? Because gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, I don’t want to run the risk of wanting to get married again later in life and being stopped because I’m still married to someone else. Honestly, gay marriage being nationally legal is something that never would have occurred to me in this lifetime… especially since when I came out, there were still so many people that thought of it as a disease, or a sin that could be corrected, ignoring the truth of the matter. The truth is that I couldn’t be heterosexual any more than I could suddenly start writing with my left hand the rest of my life.

Could I marry a man? Maybe. But I wouldn’t be completely happy because I wouldn’t be true to myself. I’m just not wired that way… and thanks to the Supreme Court, I don’t have to be.

That being said, I have no room in my life for romance… not yet. I am not healthy enough for anything but beginning good, solid friendships that will sustain me until I am ready.

Because that’s what family does.


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