Saturday, August 6, 2011

the power of four.

families are a slightly incredible cohort. you can probably relate.

they hold the ability to empower or erode. shield or abandon. enlighten or completely confuse.

and if your family is special like mine, they have the power to do all these things simultaneously.

their interconnectivity is quite brilliant. affectionate glances framing guilt. vocalized pride stemming from secret deception. a bit of codependency thrown in just to make sure you're still awake. love and belonging interlocked, laced together in a lumpy soft embrace.

my father, mother, brother and myself are a compelling bunch. and one stupid gushy blog will not do us justice. this also holds true for extended family, however it should be known the smaller group is arguably more entertaining than the larger one.

by the way, i decided it's best that grandmothers are not included in the extended family list. one. they are far too wily. and two. they have eaten more shit in their lifetime than i care to ever eat in mine. they therefore warrant distinction, and nothing ever general. each one rightfully exists in their perfectly crafted ecosystem of fantasy. and by ecosystem, i don't mean terrarium. something with a little more first class leg room and extra drawers for jewelry. one day i'll write down my memories of my grandmothers. you can then drink tea and cozy up, reading tales of my Jewish Bubba asking her 8 year old elizabeth what she wants for breakfast. my answer forever being french toast. smoking in the kitchen, she relays every detail of each conversation had over the past month. repeating and then she says to him so many times elizabeth grows up to be a story teller. doesn't every kid play 21 and shop at Bloomingdales? or if you need something with more of a bite, aloha. sit ocean side - drink something serious - and fantasize of my hot-legged-chinese-portuguese Tutu. her chapter lovingly named Have That Man Put Some Ice In My F*cking Wine, will make you vomit with laughter. 

warning: tutu makes other grandmothers blush. she lives in las vegas. she has Club A on auto pay.

in not so plain terms, my family hooks me. confuses me. loves me. keeps me on my toes. they are charged and aware. ready-to-not-take-your-ish. ready for a good laugh and great story. and above everything - above allllll the few great guarantees of this world - they are never. ever. boring. thank the prophets.

after weeks of searching for the perfect word to describe them, i still can't nail down the proper term. in surrender, all i have come up with is: power nap. because sometimes after spending a week, or a day, or a dinner, or maybe just a speaker phone conversation - you'll need one.

growing up, i memorized their individual frequencies. measured their collective output. spent the majority of my life, in two groups of three. things always seemed crystal clear.

Group 1) cindy + elizabeth + max = elizabeth giving max a hard time/food shopping
Group 2) artie + elizabeth +max = elizabeth giving max a hard time/food eating

the number three was easy. it was comfortable. it was rehearsed and expected. but four...four was mysterious. the yet-to-be-cracked algorithm.

artie + cindy + elizabeth +max = the unconstrained variable

i had often wondered what the unknown power of four would hold. not that i expected  Donna Reed Show utopia, but what type of family experiences the perfectly manicured lawn. or late night conversations in the kitchen over chocolate cake. dialing one number and reaching two people.

turns out, if you have introduced me to your family, i have most definitely stalked them for as long as possible. not to worry. i made a concerted effort to not be creepily noticeable. why would i want to go outside when i can stand in the kitchen and watch Gail passionately read the newspaper while Ron works at the computer, re-telling old jokes. she was totally unaware she ate all of the sesame seed snacks from the bowl on the counter. if you waited long enough, she would start to play the blue piano in the bedroom and sing a tune or two. who wants to meet up with friends, when i can sit in a chair and watch andi and danny cuddle on the perfect-cuddle-couch for hours. never getting up for anyone. there was no better place to be.

i blame it on my shower curtain pull back disorder. discovering rationale behind mock turtle necks and cruise ships. wall plate displays and chicken chachkes. guns and eighties hair. stories of old hollywood standards and soft-shoe. i have to know if it's pristine. if you only clean for company. if professional help should be called. or maybe no one gives a shit, and just leaves it all wide open.

but for right now, the investigation can rest. because for the first time in my life, i got the chance to experience the unimaginable. my first family vacation. ever.

prompted by the Berkeley college graduation of my brother, i have to admit i was a bit terrified. but then figured even if the trip was a complete bust, at least i had the opportunity to answer the question: Why are you going to California? with...


I'm going on vacation with my divorced parents.

words sweet as honey.

yes, i knew what was coming. and yes. some of it came. but there were other far more glorious moments i didn't anticipate.

it's a good feeling to be surprised. but being surprised as a jaded 30 year old, is even better. i grabbed ahold of memories i never thought would be mine. held tight. and floated above it all. watching my parents sit in the front seats of the car. max and i silently in the back, listening to artie and cindy family vacation conversation. mom saying how she keeps raw green beans in her purse to eat on the plane. dad laughing at mom for being ridiculous. mom laughing out loud because even though she knows she is ridiculous, my father is still far more ridiculous than everyone.

cut to the restaurant. we all sit down. together. dad and mom share salmon with asparagus. cindy can't eat her half because the kitchen basted it in sweet sugar devil sauce. another piece of salmon is ordered. the establishment makes the grievous error of charging $8 for replacement salmon. my parents riot. they tag team the restaurant manager over the erroneous $8 charge. someone gets bored and leaves to retrieve blood from a nearby rock. the argument gets heated. my father unknowingly addresses my mother, saying, hold on honey. i gleefully shit my pants. team Alinikoff wins the standoff. my exhausted mother unintentionally leaves her to-go half eaten free piece of salmon on the table. she laughs. my father hits it home with, it's the principle of the matter.

graduation day. my dad and i take pictures from the stands. my father uses his fancy camera. he lets my mom direct some shots. i ask for a thumbs up and take a picture. they both smile, give me thumbs up and say heeeyyyy.

celebration time. my dad's sf friends organize a last minute graduation dinner for max. my sweet father is excited to show off his kids. the dinner is held at the beautiful home of my father's first wife. all four of us arrive. i curse myself for not stealing more liquor bottles from the flight. during dinner, i talk to dad's first wife - seated across from me - while his second wife (my mother) sits next to me.

what's more awesome than being able to say Going on vacation with my divorced parents?

...Hanging out with my dad and his ex wives.

i'm blessed to know my experience lies somewhere between the Donna Reed Show and bat-shit-crazyville. we are humans after all. made up of unconscious gabs and loving embraces. a mess of boundless brilliance. talented artistry. and hilarious honesty.

with the humorous jaw line and humbling body hair swirls of arthur alinikoff, i am grateful. to the secretly sensitive cindy powers of observation, i promise to sit up straight to open my heart chakra. to my brother max, who really isn't impressed by anything unless he feels it in his heart. u are my doppelganger.

to all three of you. i love you.




4 comments:

  1. E, thank you for this post. it was well, beautiful. also, insightful. one day, i hope to know you more.

    a.

    ReplyDelete
  2. the tears threaten to break the surface tension that still holds them between my eyelids. this is one of the most honest, brilliant, beautiful things i have ever read. your writing completely blows me away.

    ReplyDelete
  3. my brilliant daughter...i love you

    ReplyDelete
  4. yes to good posture, good writing, open heart chakras, and artie's harems. still waiting for the book.

    ReplyDelete

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