Category Archives: family estrangement

From Emily, whenever they may find me

I don’t know how many of my family members read my blog.  I tried to sign up for Sitemeter, but it routinely tells me that no one has visited my blog, which is not only insulting but clearly untrue given that comments keep appearing.  It is either an issue between Sitemeter and WordPress or, and this is more likely, a user malfunction due to my complete idiocy.  Regardless, I cannot track where people are reading, so I have no idea if there are relatives out there, silently reading away.

It would take about thirteen seconds into a Google search for them to stumble onto this site, provided they know my married name.  Only half of them do, as I have been careful to never have my maiden name and my married name published together.  I simply do not want to be easily findable for my father, stepmother, and half-brother.  The rest of them, however, do know my married name, and they may well be reading these very words.  That is, if they have cared to Google me.

Make no mistake about it – I make it a regular habit of searching for all of them.  In fact, I paused writing this is order to click over to Facebook and see who I could find.  And then I clicked again, remembering another relative who might be there…

I search for my father and stepmother I think to make sure they are still alive.  I am not ready for them to die, yet.  When they are gone, there will be no one left who ought to feel responsible.  Reviling them is a little part of who I am, and to lose that will shift my identity.  It remains to be seen how much.

I search for my cousins to make sure they are doing well, happy and successful.  They are, as far as I can tell, although their Facebook pictures can only tell so much.  I hope to see a wedding one of these days, but they are either gay (the state they live in is one of the 45), single, cohabitating, or just not into publishing their marriages.  I get that; I did not have a wedding announcement because that would have pretty openly connected my maiden and married names.

My half-brother, however, did have a wedding announcement.  Actually, it was an engagement announcement, but it was published at the time of the marriage, as though they were perhaps afraid of making the event public knowledge in advance.  Did they fear I would show up?  What did they think I would do?

This is a recurring theme with my highly un-Googlable family.  For a group of professionals, there just ain’t much out there on most of them.  Have they done this for the same reason I kept my married and maiden names separate?  Are they thinking of me the same way I am thinking of them?  Are they concerned that I may show up?

Only my two cousins are openly out there, and even they keep their Facebook cards close to the chest, as do I.  Perhaps they are the ones who know I will leave them alone.  They are the most innocent of all, and I will never impose my version of my relationship with my family upon them.  When they want to find me, I am easy to locate, because I am the most Googlable of all my relatives.

What I think it comes down to is that I search for all of them because a part of me wants to think that they are searching for me.  That we are quietly watching one another’s lives, even though we are never likely to openly communicate again.  I vaguely consider us all tied to one another by the web of estrangement, living our lives but every now and then, late at night, crossing paths over the internet as we seek one another out.

This post is for Jen, but I think it might also be a little bit for all of them.

On the road again

            The movers came for the first shipment of children’s books, wooden trains, and t-shirts, the items we deemed essential for our stay in temporary housing when we get to Los Angeles in just a couple of weeks.  It did not take them long, as we necessarily tried to limit what we set aside for this shipment.  We will be in a small, furnished two-bedroom apartment until we find a house, and there will not be room for tents with tunnels or oversized dolls’ houses.  This shipment went air, so I kept fuel economy in mind with each item I set aside.

            The next shipment will be packed up in just two weeks, our last day in London, as we scurry about attending Zachary’s Easter Hat parade and fitting in nap time.  And then, the children will wake to an empty house, and we will head to an airport hotel for the night before our departure.

            I have seen my life disassembled like this time and time again.  When I was younger, I packed and moved everything myself, hoodwinking friends into lending me vans and taking one end of the box spring down three flights of stairs.  Now, with the relative luxury of a corporate move, others come in and pack for me.  It is a nice perk, having someone else do the packing, although I cannot imagine they could get people to move this often any other way.

            In the past, moves have been towards school or towards jobs – Philadelphia, Washington, Chapel Hill.  When we moved back to Philadelphia, I was following J’s career, for the first time moving to a city for no reason other than someone else.  I had no job waiting, although I found one as I finished graduate school.  But, I was returning to a city I had lived in for six years before, and Philadelphia had a stronger pull on me than any other place.

            Then we moved to London, a great adventure, a two-year foray into another land.  And now, we move to Los Angeles, returning not to Philadelphia, but to yet another new city.  Again, we will broaden, we will grow.

            Yet, I wonder to myself.  If something (heaven forbid) happened to my husband, where would I go?  Not to Massachusetts, a place that lost its hold on me the day I no longer needed someone else’s roof or food.  Not Los Angeles, which pulls us only through the force of J’s work.  Not Philadelphia, where we have sold our house.  My friends are scattered about the country, a few in each place I have lived but even more in places I have never been as they themselves have moved.

            The truth is, I have no career right now.  I could build one up again rather quickly, but I could build it anywhere.  This has been a great asset with all the moving about.  I have no family to speak of, or at least none that speaks to me.  Moving to London has loosened many of my friendships, too many time zones and too few visits.  And, the children are so young that they have no real ties anywhere.  The only thing that anchors us is my husband’s work.

            I am a woman defined by my husband’s work.

            I am from nowhere and I have nowhere to go.  I have no family beckoning.  I have no career.  My children are not in schools.  We are, all four of us, easily transferable.

            And I am, I fear, easily erasable.  For, beyond the walls of wherever we are currently calling home, there is no place for me in the world.

            I usually end on a hopeful note, because I am, for reasons no one has ever quite been able to figure out, an optimist.  Today, however, my optimism is tired.  I have grown out and up many, many times.  I want to spread roots down.