how do you process this
A couple of days ago I learned that my mother's boyfriend of many years died. This happened several years ago. He was in his 90's, so it wasn't something I didn't expect. And I never expected that anyone would contact me when it happened. The last time I spoke with him was when my mother died (10 years ago). I figured it would probably be the last time I heard from him, and really wasn't sorry about that. I don't recall his words being particularly comforting, although I can't remember much of anything that he said (their relationship had ended a few years before she died, although I don't recall the details).
I am not particularly sad. I am certainly not in denial. Beyond slightly relieved, I don't know what I am. Maybe a little angry?
I have kept this secret for so long. Not that suddenly it will come up in conversation. It is not something that people talk about. There really isn't anyone to talk to about it anyway.
He was married. And her boss. Also the same age as her father. And not that it mattered, but he was also Jewish. Are we having fun yet?
I hadn't really thought of him. And suddenly there were memories that popped into my head. Things I had buried deep inside. Like how I found out about their relationship.
I was just starting high school at a new school where I knew no one. My sister and I had just returned from a summer of visiting our father and grandmother on the east coast. While we were away, my Mom moved us into a different apartment. We knew this was going to happen, it wasn't a big deal. It was just more change. She also informed us she had broken up for good with her boyfriend of many years (we wanted to be happy about this, but it wasn't the first time she had said this).
She told us that her boss was coming to dinner. We really didn't think anything of it beyond that we needed to make sure the house was clean before we left in the morning. Our room didn't have a closet, so we needed to make sure there wasn't any dirty laundry strewn about.
Dinner was fairly uneventful. As per usual, we were told to clean up after we were finished. While we started doing the dishes they disappeared into my mother's room. I figured they had business to discuss. It wasn't until we heard other noises, that we realized what was happening. I still remember staring at my sister, and her staring back at me with what I am sure was the same look of disbelief on my face. Suddenly Bozo (the nickname of my mom's previous boyfriend) didn't look so bad.
We weren't sure what to do. We weren't allowed to leave the apartment without permission. It wasn't the best of neighborhoods, and we were still learning our way around. We more than likely went and hid in our room. I don't think anything more was said about it that night. What more really could be said?
Another thing I remembered was a trip to the movies. It probably happened not too long after the dinner. The four of us went to the movies with the idea that it was something to bond us. Something normal. Something fun. It was far from any of that.
The movie theater was one of those that showed movies that had been out for a while. It was a week night, so there weren't many people there. I've tried to remember the name of the movie, or even the genre, but it is a complete blank. You see, when we arrived at the theater, my mother told us to sit in the row in front of them. And then for the entire movie, the two of them made out behind us. It was disgusting. The noises combined with the wild imagination of a teenage girl were a bad combination. Yet there was no way in a million years I would have turned around. If what I saw hadn't killed me, I am sure my mother would have.
The whole relationship was so complicated. I still feel weird saying anything about it. I know that some people figured it out, and there were a even select few that were told. But as I've said, it isn't something one brings up in polite conversation. Maybe not even in impolite conversation.
I really tried hard not to judge my mother. I can't deny though that this choice did impact our relationship. It probably made us closer in some ways, but mostly it sent mixed messages and severed boundaries.
To make things even more bizarre, my sister ended up in a long-term relationship with a much older man who was also Jewish. Of course she denied that she was acting out the issues in her own childhood.
on the night stand :: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.