it was a long night. watching films until dawn. at 7:11 this morning i attempted sleep.
my parents met at a 7-11 convenience store. he was 24. she was 18. my dad followed his fiance to missouri and upon arrival she left him. he was lost. nowhere to go. he could have returned home. but he did not. instead, after four years in the navy, he spent his nights managing that 7-11 in a city with no family and few friends.
my mother was a free spirit. raised in a home full of love and madness. she was the youngest of four children and spent most of her days alone dreaming and escaping. she secretly craved normality. my dad? normal could be his middle name.
she worked at mcdonald’s. across the street from the 7-11. she purchased her pantyhose, required to be worn at her job, at his store. she would flirt. she came on strong. begging him for dates. he turned her down over and over. i am sure her beauty and uninhibitedness intimidated him. he thought she was too young. she says to him, “if i can get your friend to take me to dinner, will you?” he says, “ok.” of course she went on that date with the friend. and of course my father kept his promise. it was halloween night, their first date. and six weeks later, one cold december evening, they were married in a church with no heat. she wearing a short skirt and he wearing a yellow tie.
thirty-five years later their love is stronger than ever. they laugh together. they cry together. when they look into each other’s eyes it is as if it is for the first time.
depression runs in my family. my mother’s mother suffered from paralyzing depression. she lost her father in a fire when she was five. spent most of her childhood in orphanages. raped. beaten. broken. i was diagnosed with depression at thirteen. when my mother looked into my eyes, she saw her mother. and it terrified her. and because of this, my childhood was not easy. it was full of pain. and misunderstanding. and fear. many days my mother could not look at me. if she did, there would be a fight. if i could change any of it, would i? no. i am who i am today because of the pain. the depression.
and so, today, as i closed my eyes at 7:11 i thought of my parents. their love. their warmth. their patience and understanding over the years. and i smiled. i thought of love. of normality. they have both and it works. for me, i want love and passion. pain and sorrow. i need it all.