On the road to Pleasantville

****This is disjointed and written yesterday about 5pm. I will clean it up and flesh it out later.
I may not have been as ready for this as I thought. However running from this causes me intense pain so I guess that pretty much just leaves facing it. I guess my life growing up was different but I would argue that it was normal. It certainly felt normal, though different. I was born different though, being biracial/mixed/mulatto/whateva, so that too felt normal. However I remember being aware as a kid that my life was “complicated”. OK take notes, this starts out simple but gets complicated quick. My parents met and married in college, Central Michigan University, they married on campus in the African Studies Center. My mom is the oldest daughter of a very white family. My maternal grandmother was born in Norway and her father was only a few generations here from Germany. She grew up in a small all white town in western Michigan and did not see a non-white person in the flesh until she was 18. My father was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up on the East side from a kinda conservative family that came to Michigan from Florida to work in the factories. His father died when he was quite young and his mother raised all 5 children herself. The 4 who lived to adulthood attended and graduated college, my white grandmother can’t boast of such yet never needed too. My grandmother was insanely proud of that and she had a college degree as well. I believe she had an associates in childhood development or education? I believe only my cousin Melanie a reporter(!) of the grandkids has completed college. Poor Grandma C. I’m going to finish my bachelors one day. Anyway, my Papa went to college on a partial football scholarship. My mom sang in the choir. I forget how they met but he took her behind the bleachers to kiss her, not in front of everybody. She thought he was such a gentleman. I think he was a very dark skinned black man taking more of a risk than my mom could comprehend even now. What did the two of them ever see in each other? I have no memory at all of them as a couple. Now they are the best example of a divorced couple I have ever met. I took it in stride as a kid but as an adult I realize how extremely blessed I was. Anyway, my mom told me later that she thought I would go to school with primarily mixed kids. What can I say, it was the 70’s and I think in college my mom forgot what the real world was like. Lucky for me, I grew up in Detroit. My blonde haired blue eyed my mom stayed after she and Papa divorced even though it was very hard. Black women are not kind to white women who marry black men in Detroit. At least not to my mom. My mom who grew up in a town where people still do not lock their doors at night. She has not always supported me but she started out totally having my back and that makes me happy. Anyway, when I was 2 my parents separated and divorced. This was very hard on my mother. I think much like my mom could not understand what a risk Papa took loving her, I don’t think he ever acknowledged what it cost her to be his ex-wife. She could not return to the world she grew up in, it had no place for me. She often does not acknowledge why my step father, my Dad is also black. Once I divorced and was dating she shared with me how difficult dating was. In the non-college world there was not as much mixed dating, which didn’t matter to her but she soon learned mattered very much to some of the white men she dated. I was not acceptable to them. To those whom I was acceptable to, my father visiting or paying child support was out of the question. Many of the men were threatened by the fact that she had been married to a black man and some even asked her quite nasty questions about it. So my Dad enters the picture, he was recently divorced with 2 sons. One with his ex-wife and one from before. His mom owned the two family flat where my mom and I lived upstairs. He bought it from his mom while he was divorcing. He got his sons every weekend and she had me. They became friends. Soon more than friends. So now I have my mom and Papa divorced and now my mom meets my Dad who will soon become my step father. He brings with him my favorite brother ever Ke and my other brother A too, lol. Anyway, soon my mom and my Dad have a kid together, my sister K. My middle sister, K is born shortly before they marry. My Dad and my Papa are very different. Both my mom and Papa were social workers. My mom for adults, eventually getting a masters and going into regulatory services. My Papa for kids which he hated and he leaves the state when I’m 9. Anyway, my Dad is a blue color kinda guy. Very hardworking. My childhood is full of him working, 6 and 7 days a week, 12 and 16 hour days. Dad was emotionally unavailable I believe today’s psychiatrist would call it. I was too with my daughter when I had to work like that.There is nothing to give when you work those kinds of hours. I never did hard labor either. Papa on the other hand was very emotionally available. I don’t know how my mom, my Dad and my Papa did it but I effectively had 3 parents. OK so my mom and Dad are married and have one child together my sister K, my Dad has 2 sons, his youngest, Ke from his previous marriage and his oldest child, A from before his marriage. When I am in the 7th grade Papa and a woman he is dating have a baby girl. My baby sister, B, who was born just before I turned 14 and who is not quite 5 years older than my daughter. When B is 5, after my daughter is born my father marries his current wife, my stepmother G, who is not a parent to me. In a way, G and Papa dating her is really where my life story changes. I lived with my mom until a few months before I left home. In most of my memory she was married to my Dad. My sister K was really the important person in my house growing up. She was very sick when she was little and she was the child they had together. My sister and I were very close until she was 19/20 and I was 24/25, we are still fairly good to each other though not really friends. My Dad never in my entire life referred to me as other than his daughter and no one in his family ever did either, ironically his family is the family I spent all of my childhood with and with a few very notable exceptions are my favorite relatives. His funeral was tough and the nicest thing my sister and I can say about that experience is that the family treated myself and my daughter as family. I was the apple of my Papa’s eye and he is very demonstrative. It was enough. It didn’t matter day to day that my home focused on my sister K, because my Papa belonged only to me. My relationship with my mom is unhealthy and dysfunctional. Her relationship with my sister K is better but not as much as I like to think. My relationship with my mother is dysfunctional and unhealthy and I have no memory of a time where that was not the case. It’s complicated and for another blog. Anyway, Papa made it clear that I came first. He never missed a parent teachers conferences or a school or extra curricular activity. He and my mom always attended together. I saw him 3 or 4 nights a week and generally spoke to him the days I did not see him. To be fair I do have memories of him being late to pick me up as a kid and my mom being irritated. Either way it was way more than any other father was involved as I grew up. Again to be fair, Papa never had any money or financial security and once he stopped working for the state he pretty much stopped paying child support. Lucky for me my Dad quietly paid for what Papa couldn’t. Thats what I mean by ideal. I was not aware of this as a kid. It was never awkward. They attended each others remarriages and all of my siblings- be they half or step were welcome with me and no one was refered to as ‘step’ or ‘half’ siblings. I was truly blessed. It is a good thing too because my adult life has been so challenging I really need the security that foundation provided me. Much of my childhood is a blur. I spent summers on lake Michigan with my cousins ( mostly my mom’s youngest sister’s kids) and sister K. I spent most of my holidays in Alabama with my Dad’s family. I think I saw my Papa’s family more before I was molested by my older cousin. My parents do not discuss this and my memory of the event is limited. My grandmother’s mother was dying in Florida. I was around 4 or 5. I flew with her to Florida. I vaguely remember the plane ride. I don’t remember much of the visit. At some point I told my Grandma what my cousin was doing to me and she sent me to stay with a sister of hers. I’m not sure how much I remember myself and how much my mom told me. I remember I had Pippy Longstocking summer short pj’s. The girl on the front had long red braids which were flying behind her as she raced on skates. I remember him making me take PJ bottoms off. I remember it burning in the bathtub. I remember trying to think of lies about why I couldn’t take my bottoms off. I remember him making me do it anyway. I remember staying with an older woman who thought I was beautiful. She took me visiting with me her, dressed me up in fancy expensive dresses and spent a lot of time doing my hair. I mostly remember feeling sad but safe with her and she held me constantly. I vaguely remember this cousin being sent to military school. I think my Papa’s family felt awkward with me after that. I have lots of pictures with me with my cousins before this happened. No pictures from older and no memories either. I did not like that cousin and felt weird awkward around him but I did not know why. At some point I started having dreams and was convinced I was a pervert. When I asked my mom about it she tried to convince me it was nothing that happened and I shouldn’t remember. I think he may have penetrated me. My guess is no one had me checked out for fear of my cousin getting a record. I saw him this past Thanksgiving with his son at my Papa’s. I could hardly eat.


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