Next memoir post is up.
The hardest parts to reread in my memoir are the ones with my parents after my divorce. I can deal with reading about my own pain – I lived through it and put it behind me. But remembering how hurt my mother and father were still gives me a pang.
I wonder what it was like in their house after I told them. If my mother kept trying to talk about it, and my father kept turning away, kept going to his paintings, his singing, his guitar, to make himself forget. If they didn’t worry about saving face so much, they could have talked to their friends. It wasn’t till April, nine months after I told them, that my mother finally let someone else know.
She and my aunt Ping were staying at my grandmother’s house in Berkeley. It was just the two of them since Puo-puo was living in L.A. by then. The house needed some repairs, and my mother and aunt were basically watching the repairmen. Aunt Ping is the least gossipy of my relatives so I can see why my mother told her. Afterward, my aunt couldn’t sleep the whole night.
The next time I saw her was a month later. She, my mother, and a cousin were meeting up in the city for lunch. I didn’t know my aunt knew and so was surprised that she hugged me so tightly when she first saw me. (Aunt Ping usually does the arms-length hug, grabbing the would-be hugger by the arms and patting them before they can get too close.)
“You could have warned me,” I whispered to my mother. Actually I was relieved. I preferred that people knew.
Then again, did I? I saw my uncle and his family later that year, and they just looked at me like they didn’t know what to say. I knew they had been upset, but the last thing I wanted was anyone feeling sorry for me.
After my separation, I mostly liked the peace of my solitary routine – a cup of coffee and toast in the early mornings, Friday nights picking up on my way home half-priced breakfast pastries from a cupcake shop on 2nd Avenue, long runs in Central Park. But sometimes I had a hard time filling my days. Saturday nights I didn’t have plans, I’d walk down Park Avenue, from my place on 77th Street to Grand Central, where the Sunday Times would already be available, and walk back home.
Then I’d read the front page, the Styles section, and glance through the Book Reviews. I’d save the magazine for last, relishing the crossword puzzle, which could keep me occupied for days.
Now I occasionally miss that time I spent alone. I like this quote from author Alice Koller:
Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.