Thursday, July 29, 2010

summer evening

We have these bugs in the midwest called cicadas (maybe some people call them locusts). In the late afternoon/early evening this time of year they start buzzing in the trees. Loudly. It's a noise that gets loud then quiet then loud then quit, kind of like a police siren. I hate this noise. It is something I associate with hot summer nights, the sun going down, and tensions rising.
Growing up, evening was a dangerous time in my house. My dad drank most of the day, and by evening he would usually be really drunk, and my mom would be really mad. Either that, or he would be out with his friends, having been due back hours ago, and my mom would be pacing around the house, getting madder and madder, waiting for him to come home. Either way, a fight was brewing. As a kid, I might not know exactly what the fight was about, but I could feel it coming, like a summer storm.
My parents had horrible fights. They screamed and yelled at eachother, the most awful, hurtful things. Listening from my bedroom upstairs I couldnt always here exactly what they were saying, but I could hear the yelling, and it scared the crap out of me. It sounded like they were going to kill eachother. They didn't hit eachother, but I'm pretty sure they threw things around, because there would be crashes that shook our whole house and left me terrified, straining to hear voices again so I would at least know everyone was still alive. It was even so bad one time that the neighbors came over to make sure everyone was ok. My parents were embarassed and stopped fighting, for that evening. I wished the neighbors would come by every night.
One night durring a really bad fight, there was a loud crash that made my brother and sister and I jump out of bed a run to the top of the stairs. All three of us burst out crying when we saw my dad pinning my mom down on the floor next to a large chair that had been overturned. Mom and Dad immediately got up and came and put us back to bed, telling us how sorry they were and assuring us that everything would be alright. Every night after that, when they put us in bed, we would say "Good night, don't fight!". It was like a magic charm that we desperately needed to work. It did, for a little while.
As a child, I lived with a particular burden. It was the feeling that I was "responsible". Not that I was the reason for the fighting. More like, I had to watch out, because for some reason I felt I had to monitor the fights to make sure no one got hurt. When I was supposed to be in bed I would creep to the top of the stairs to listen. As awful as it was to hear the yelling and harsh words I had to listen, had to sit up there and hear the entire fight, when I should have been in bed with my covers pulled up over my head to block it out. Because if I wasn't listening, if I wasn't there to make sure they didn't go to far, then anything might happen. So I sat up there, night after night, insides twisting to knots, waiting for it to end. Sometimes the fight would end with the door slamming hard and my dad leaving, then silence, and I would wonder, did he kill her? So I would have to go check, I would creep downstairs to find my mother, crying in the dark.

I'm not writing about this to say "look, see what a crappy childhood I had". Cause I know alot of people had it alot worse. That's not my point at all. Mostly, its just been on my mind alot. I think its why I get more anxious in the evening. I feel lost and scared, like something bad is going to happen. Have you ever felt nostalgic, but not in a good way? That's the way I feel when I hear the cicadas.

I'm glad Chris and I don't yell at eachother. We don't even really fight. We argue sometimes, but we don't raise our voices or call eachother names. We just...disagree.


Sairs said...

Andy and I are the same. We don't fight or yell, we also disagree. I still hate that even because I worry he will be mad at me and I end up crying usually, which is why it never goes too far. I hate confrontation because of my mother yelling at everyone in our house and telling us horrible things. I understand how you feel from your childhood, my dad was very quiet though, he just let her yell, but she was worse with me. It was a long time before I could like my mother, but we have sorted most of our differences out now thankfully.

Eating Alone said...

Our house was very quite till the divorce. Maybe if they fought a little they would have stayed together. Oh well 10+ years after they got back together.

I love the bugs. It just means that it's time to sit and be quite.

kris said...

I could understand why you don't like to hear the locusts/cicadas in the evening after reading this. I think I might understand somewhat... although perhaps more from the point of view of your mother (who probably isn't fond of locusts either). We don't fight very often, and my husband doesn't drink, but when we fight your story sounds all too familiar. It makes me fear having children until we never fight again -- which in many ways seems impossible, although it's not like we fight a lot anyway. Our fights usually consist of me crying and listening to insults until I can't take it any more and try to defend myself. And from my husband's side of things, I'm always the one with the flaw that caused the whole fight. All I know is that it's good to hear someone else's story of what this would sound like from a child's point of view. I imagine that your mother was probably scared to death and didn't know of any way to make things less scary for herself or you and your siblings.

Sometimes, I get the feeling of nostalgia in a bad way from songs on the radio. I think that's normal. Hopefully, the locusts will be done making noise every night soon.


謝翁穎翰毓珍 said...

傻氣的人喜歡給心 雖然每次都被笑了卻得到了別人的心............................................................

bananas said...

Cicadas scare me! Where I grew up, they buzzed the most in the morning and afternoon. They'd wake me up. I hated them!!

Don't have them here, thank god!

I Hate to Weight said...

that's a hard way to grow up. it doesn't matter that others may have had it "worse". you witnessed and felt too much -- pain, sadness, fear, danger....

it's amazing that you and chris have such a different relationship. extraordinary. give yourself a lot of credit.

i need to work on soothing myself better in the present. it's not very easy, is it?

bananas said...

By the way -- so well written. :)