the 'rents

September 24. 1999

It took me a while to decide whether I should write this entry. As you can see from the title, this is about my parents. Which normally wouldn't be a big deal except my parents read my journal. They're almost as Internet savvy as I am, or at least getting there. My dad is loving his new little iMac at school. He emails me daily, every time the subject line reading simply "DAD", which I find extremely charming.

The idea for this entry came from an incident that happened earlier this week which completely surprised me. I went to visit my friends in New York City, and I chose not to tell my parents that I was going, for fear they'd get mad or not let me go. When I got home on Sunday night, consumed with guilt, I sat down, and, in my usual dramatic fashion, pounded out a 7k email to my mom telling her where I had been. I get a call from her the next morning from school. I expected her to boiling mad for lying to her, but...she wasn't. She said she trusted my judgment and knew I would make good decisions. I told my dad over the phone later that day, and just when I was expecting something to the equivalent of Mt. Vesuvius to erupt, he was...OKAY with it. Oh my. The fact that parents trusted me so much like that completely bowled me over.

The point of this entry isn't "nah nah nah nah, I got away with something". It made me finally examine just exactly who my parents are, where they come from, and the fact that they are completely different from most parents I know.

How different? It's hard to say. I think it had partly to do that, from the very start, they were fish out of water. Lebanon County is a very conservative, white, Republican, Protestant, ethnically German kind of place, where all the respectable people are doctors and lawyers. Then here come my parents, who were liberal, Democrat, Russian Orthodox/Catholic, Russian/Polish, and they were ARTISTS. Heaven forbid. ;) I only really recognized this difference a few years ago. Maybe it was a big deal for them, maybe it wasn't. This was just my perception.

I think where my parents came from has a lot to do with the way they chose to raise me. Especially from my Mom's side. For some reason or another, my Mom's culture and religion has always been a lot more dominant in my life than my Dad's. My mother was raised strictly Polish Catholic, and the oldest and only girl of four children. She was considerably more liberal than my grandparents (as most teenagers are), and although my mom has never gone into great detail about the disagreements they had, I know they were quite extensive. There was quite a scandal when she decided to go to art school, because apparently my grandfather's mother felt girls should be looking for a husband, not wasting their time with further schooling. I think all of this adversity my mother went through in high school and college with her parents made her determined not to do this to me and my sister. And she hasn't. She's always allowed me to explore what I want to in regards to religion, politics or whatnot. We often don't agree on many things. Sometimes she annoys the hell out of me. I really hate the way she knocks herself out to impress people with our house or her cooking or her garden. I wish she'd realize she's enough all on her own. She doesn't need to prove herself, and we've had many an argument on that subject.

My Dad's background is little more murky in my perception. I get the feeling he came from the "tough love, suck it up" school, and although that may have worked with he and his twin brother in the 1950s and 1960s, it often backfired with his two teenaged daughters in the 1990s. He also comes from the "men are stoic and don't show their feelings" school, which I know has created some problems for our whole family. I'm not going to sugarcoat things here. I've had huge, horrible fights with my father, as anyone who talks to me on regular basis knows. There have been some times when I've wanted to disown him, run away and never see him again. But there are times when he does or says something that just completely floors me. I have no doubt he loves me. Sometimes he just doesn't know how to show it so I understand.

The next chapter is my mom and dad together. From what I understand, there was quite an uproar when they decided to get married, mostly over religious differences. As I said above, my mother was Catholic, my father was Russian Orthodox, and this apparently was a huge problem. First there was the ceremony - should my Dad get Communion or not, blah blah blah, he needed to convert (which of course his parents weren't too keen on), blah blah blah. And so on. Parents can be stupid. So much to the point that my mother's father tried to talk her out of marrying my father the MORNING of the wedding. So I have nothing but admiration for my parents sticking it out and getting married in spite of it all. And they've already rubbed any naysayers' noses in the dirt: they celebrated their 22nd anniversary this past July.

So now we come full circle...back to their daughter. I can't figure out why they trust me so much. I'm not a very remarkable person (although they'll probably beg to differ). I've always just tried to do my best. I don't know what I've done to deserve this trust they have in me. Maybe it's what I haven't done. These relationships with parents are never easy or simple, but I love them both in spite of everything.

music: For the Roses, Joni Mitchell
food: a bottle of water
read: a book on Michelangelo Buonarotti
sight: the sun in eyes, my face reflected in the computer screen
random: yesterday was my journal's one month anniversary
Song Lyric:
I came in as bright as a neon light / And I burned out right there before him.
- Lesson in Survival, Joni Mitchell