Fun With Families. Specifically, Mine.

Today at the supermarket, I noticed I was attracting admiring glances as I unloaded my basket, which contained nothing but a loaf of super-healthy grainy-style bread and fruit and vegetables. I could see people thinking “my! That young lady certainly has a healthy diet!” Of course, what they didn’t know is that for the past few days, my diet has consisted of rice noodles and chocolate.

Which allows me to segue neatly (neatly in a parallel universe, I mean) into talking about my Easter.

Considering I had a couple of days off, and Stu also had a couple of days off, we (by which I mean, I) decided to head off back to Gippsland and appease my immediate family’s cries of “you never come and visit!”. It went better than I expected. My family is pretty dysfunctional, and I always expect the worst, even though they’re lovely people. I seem to have a complex about them embarrassing me somehow, which isn’t particularly fair to them, especially given that it’s probably a hangover from the days when my hair and fingernails were black to match my SOUL and let’s face it, I was probably far more embarrassing then (to all concerned) than they could ever hope to be.

I think somewhere along the line, I picked up other people’s confusion about the arrangement of my family, and that morphed into shame. See, my mum has been married twice. My sisters were begat (man, I love that word) with her first husband, and I with her second. Which technically makes them my half-sisters, a distinction that has never been important in the family, perhaps partly because it has never influenced how much we stir each other up. So, Mum married once, had two kids, divorced (this is back in the mid-70s, when being a divorced single mother in a small country town wasn’t exactly a bucket of laughs), met the man she’d go on to beget me with some years later, and got married. Then that marriage died too, although they’ve never gotten around to getting divorced, and it’s now more than a decade later. Have you got all that? I’ve tried to explain it to a couple of people at work, but they just look confused. Public library employees are no good at maths.

So, you have a shambolic arrangement with parts of your immediate family not talking to other parts, and sometimes you get to thinking it would be easier to prentend you’re an orphan. Another small potential problem has always been that my parents are what you might call “interesting” people. I used to tell anyone who asked my lineage that I’m “part starving artist and part white trash”. My mother has always been a little on the boho side, and in recent years has adopted that curious blend of old-school religion and New Age spirituality that seems to be common among middle-aged women. People on my mum’s side of the family tend to be artistically brilliant and highly-strung, and are prone to having nervous breakdowns they never recover from and/or dying in abject poverty, their talents undiscovered. My dad is your classic wrong-side-of-the-tracks, working class, bar-brawlin’ boy, forced by his father to leave school at fifteen and undertake an apprenticeship despite his enjoyment of school and academic brilliance. He was raised to hate poofters and uppity women what didn’t know their place, but the message somehow got muddled up and he ended up a proud father of a girl, a feminist, and a gay-rights advocate. As you can probably tell, that side of the family are prone to having children out of wedlock, belting each other around, and gambling away child support funds.

So anyway, to get back on topic, I’ve been known to get a bit stressed about my family at times. Despite the fact that we’ve been together for a few years now, Stu has still only met them all a handful of times. Fortunately, everything went well over Friday and Saturday. I won’t regale you all with endless tales about my niece and nephew (although believe me, I could. Especially since I totally have Myles on my side against his father). It was lovely to see everyone, and to spend time in Gippsland now that it’s started to get fondly fuzzy in my mind rather than nastily real. The biscuits I made in lieu of buying Easter eggs went down well. I made a point of giving everyone extra in case they felt like being generous, but no one offered me so much as a crumb! Bastards!

I think Stu is starting to get more comfortable around my family too, which is nice. It’s sweet watching him try to impress them; to bond with the kids, to chat with my mum, joke with my dad, and not get caught really obviously starting at my breasts. It’s nice that he makes the effort too; there’s a significant reduction in the amount of leering that goes on when my family are around. Saturday afternoon was spent with me reading and various other activities, and Stu and Dad fiddling with my car. I guess given that very few people who are reading this know Stu, let alone my Dad, I can’t really convey the hilarity of this event very well. Believe me, it’s funny. Neither of them are what you would call car men, but they spent a few hours fixing things up and cleaning it, and then took it for a drive to make sure everything was working as it should. It got to the point where I started to wonder if, should I wander out to the garage for one of my periodic inspections, whether I would find my modest little Hyundai sedan sporting some fully sick mag wheels.

We came home on Saturday because I had to work on Sunday (fortunately just processing returns and shelving, none of that dealing with the public crap). The drive was lovely and went too quickly because we got into some D&Ms that weren’t about porn and boobies (yeah, that happens occasionally). I felt relaxed, happy and refreshed, an effect that has been totally ruined by returning to pressing homework, rent-paying work (I never ceased to be amazed by the number of people who will yell until they’re blue in the face and insult me personally because I have had the gall to inform them they have an eighty cent fine owing on their card), and the ever present Question of Our Ages: Holy shit what the fuck am I going to do with my life once I finish Uni?

2 Responses to “Fun With Families. Specifically, Mine.”

  1. liah Says:

    I was at my grandparents’ a few days ago, and Nana unearthed a bunch of old photos, and there were photos of your grandad Merv! And he was all young and stuff.

  2. Aimee Says:

    Eeek! How utterly terrifying! I shall have to see them sometime. They weren’t the ones where he was dressed as a woman were they?