Monday, February 27, 2012

A Lasting First Impression

It's either sunrise or sunset, I can't tell. A mid-sized, blue car is parked outside what is probably our apartment. We're on the ground floor. I can see our back door from where we're standing in the parking lot. I'm in Mom's arms as she circles around and around the blue car. I'm crying. We're being chased by Dad, although I can't see him because my face is buried in Mom's shoulder. There is a lot of screaming. I spot blood stains on Mom's sleeve, but it's definitely not my blood. I spot her clothes and jewelry scattered all over the ground.

"Stand clear of the closing doors. STAND CLEAR! DO NOT BLOCK THE DOOR!"

I'm on my way back home from school and I've fallen asleep on the subway. I do that a lot. I wake up a stop before I'm supposed to get off, calm and refreshed. The subway always puts me to sleep after work. The gentle rocking of the train combined with chatter is New York City's version of a lullaby. During my fifteen minute nap, I've dreamed about the earliest memory I have. And it sucks.

For years, I've been trying to squeeze more out of this memory. It's clearly not positive, but I want to remember more. A part of me wants more from it. When this happened, I was at most four years old, but probably younger. Before moving into a somewhat decent house, my parents and I lived in a sketchy, gang-infested apartment complex called King Arthur Court (pictured below). As you can probably tell, this is where most of the hedge fund managers of the neighborhood lived in.

The King Arthur Court Apartments via Google image search.
I think my memory captures one of the first times both my mom and I were thrown out from our residence by my dad under the influence. My mom's English was pretty bad at the time, and calling the police on her husband was simply not an option for her. Not because of her bad English, but because that just wouldn't be right. So when something like this happened, we'd be on our own. My mom only had one friend in the entire apartment complex, so I'm pretty sure we went there.

I don't remember my mom's friend's name, but from I do remember she was very nice and helpful. When we would show up unannounced, she would comfort my mother, but their conversation was very limited as both of them did not speak English fluently. Her apartment wasn't exactly clean and orderly, but hey, she gave me Coke with ice in a proper Coca-Cola glass, so I liked her. She would frequently provide shelter to us in this way. I can't remember if she was married or had kids, but I hope someone is taking good care of her.
I spot blood stains on Mom's sleeve, but it's definitely not my blood.
I wasn't sure if the blood was my mom's or my dad's. In his drunken rage, my dad was very stubborn and physical. This used to shock me as a kid because my father was a pretty big fucking pushover when he was sober. Alcohol allowed him to channel his frustrations and regrets through verbal and physical assault. At the age of my earliest memory, I didn't understand why he would resort to beating the living shit out of her. He would shove her into a corner and start choking her with one hand. Then he'd let go and look down at me pulling at his legs. He'd say, "Don't worry son, I love you, but I just hate her." I never got that, I mean logically if you love me, why would you hurt someone you know I love? A child using logic and reason with his parents: this could've been a Kodak moment.

My mom eventually grew a backbone and began to defend herself from my dad. She would throw things at him, pull his hair and use her nails. That's why I can't tell if the blood is hers or my his. I'm going to guess it's her blood though, because I was very young and at that time, she didn't have the courage or experience to defend herself properly. I motivated her to grow a pair and venture out into world, but that wasn't until I was much older.
I spot her clothes and jewelry scattered all over the ground.
He usually unloaded my mom's drawers and closet if we left the house to escape, throwing everything outside. My mom would retaliate by doing the same to his belongings, although my dad really wasn't attached to much except his booze. No one dared to touch my video games or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That's power you can't buy, bitches.

In retrospect, I can probably trace my dislike for mess, disorganization and chaos to these events. Every time my parents would fight, there would always be a huge mess around the house we'd have to clean up. I see now that I grew up picturing chaos as the end result of a bad thing. Plus, I would rather spend my time playing video games than help pick up clothes around the house - what a bad deal for me. Now, I would rather pick up the clothes first, although I wouldn't classify myself as a "clean freak" since I don't mind clothes all over the place, as long as they're in neat, orderly piles and properly folded of course. Go ahead, laugh.

There really isn't much else to add, that's all I can really remember about the first impression in my life. Nothing else comes to mind, which is kind of depressing because I really thought this post was going somewhere. I guess this isn't a happy ending where everyone learns something and ends up together. My dad is still an alcoholic, but he isn't physical abusive anymore because he's an old man who looks even older. My mom has grown stronger; she now commands the house, but her earlier oppressed lifestyle has made her extremely bitter, emotional and controlling. She doesn't talk to me anymore because I think she believes I betrayed her by moving away and making something of myself without her.

As broken as they are, my parents are still married and living together. Somehow, my house hasn't ended up on the news for a murder-suicide tragedy. Given this small success, I'm really thinking strengthening their marriage by entering them to be participants on Wife Swap. Thoughts?


nh said...

so my being a "monica" is a good thing for you but would have annoyed the hell out of most other men. clearly meant to be together!

excellent post - keep em coming!

Anonymous said...

Good post makes me wonder how my household would of been with my father there growing up

When is the book coming

Yo Mista said...

@ NH:
Thanks dear ;)

@ Anonymous:
I often wondered what my personality, life and overall outlook would be like if my father were actually absent instead of a negative influence. My mother had me convinced that she couldn't have made it without his financial support, but I've seen single mothers get over tougher obstacles in my experience as a teacher.

The book will come when I get "discovered." Then, of course, I'll sell out and start writing pop songs.

Anonymous said...

is your pop song going to be "it's hard out there for a pimp," "i'm not a girl, not yet a woman," or "give me just one night, una noche!"???

nh said...

jokes aside - i am constantly amazed and in awe of what an amazing person you are, especially given the adversities that defined your childhood. hope your students appreciate you as much as i do!

Yo Mista said...

@ nh:
Thank you, I appreciate that YOU put up with me MORE than anything!

michelle said...

always wife swap... always