The bus drops me off at the foot of the driveway. I run up the hill and in to the house. Sesame Street comes on at 4PM and from then until 6 there is nothing but great educational programming to watch. After that, I figure I’ll read The Lord of the Rings for the rest of the night.
Except when I walk in, something is not right. My usually happy mom is sitting in the chair crying. My stomach goes in to a knot. What could be wrong?
“Your dad and I are getting a divorce.” my mom says. And my worst fears are realized. I know this script also. Things would never be the same. I would have to choose which parent to live with and make the other one sad.
I ask my mother why. Sure, they fight sometimes, but even at that age I know that that is something that most parents do, but mostly they get along, I think. And then she tells me:
“My friend Darleen and her husband are splitting up and they were so happy together. If they can’t manage to stay together then how can your father and I manage?”
Now I’m crying also and trying to reason with her. Even to my 8 year old brain, the logic flaw is really evident. How could she possibly be missing this? It makes no sense.
Soon my dad arrives home. I run to him and ask him why they’re getting a divorce. He looks confused and tells me to go in my room. I wait about 20 minutes and then he comes in.
“Let’s go” he says. And in to the car we pile, driving down in to town. We pull in front of the pizza place. We walk in he orders a pizza. As we sit he speaks to me like an adult, assuming I understand completely what he means.
“Your mom is really drunk. She doesn’t know what she’s saying and sometimes you say things you don’t mean. She’ll go to bed soon. Everything will be fine after that.”
I’m not sure what “drunk” really is other than acting silly and laughing a lot like my grandfather used to do. But the words are coming from my dad and so they must make sense.
Once the pizza is finished, he hands me $5 and tells me to get change and go play pinball in the back room of the pizza place.
“I’m going to the bar next door. Be good.” he says as he walks out the door.