The soundtrack of my childhood is a beautiful and bitter goulash of Presley, Franklin, Ross, violence and hatred. The blood spatter that stained our stairway walls never washed off because no one bothered to address it in between beatings. It’s unclear to me still if anyone ever knew the stains were so prominent or if I just noticed them as my hair was being ripped out at the scalp.
The seventies weren’t as beautiful as GQ and Playboy make them out to be on account of my functionally alcoholic parents. The true romance of growing up in the fifties and sixties was that bourbon was actually served with every meal including holidays unless it was a Sunday in which case copious amounts of wine and brandy were in every glass. There were drinks at every meal; near applause when the ice jingled like tiny bells into the first glass and screaming when the first knuckles berthed onto skin. It was liquor that afforded me a sickness I never wanted and a big screen to watch and learn several generations try and fail, laugh and cry, sin and be victims. I knew from a very early age the person I never wanted to be and I always felt a secret bit of kept joy that I escaped my own demise. It’s as though I’ve escaped a lifetime that passed me by on a train. I did not wave and but also I did not fully appreciate the gravity or significance of my fictional deposition. What I did do was survive.
The one thing I never planned on was that it would take me so long to learn how to make good choices. Not like having ordered the best plate on the menu or feeling as though you found a really great pair of jeans. After decades of watching the women I love being treated like professional whores it would seem like a high school diploma and the University of Kansas might have cured me of needing something just short of a rape kit.
So my New Year’s resolution in July is to spend the last six months of 2014 escaping regret that I don’t absolutely have to pay for. I’m not afraid of the future but rather the past. My alcoholic father likes to brag that Stonewall Jackson is a distant and historically important relative to this family which is probably total crap with the exception that according to namesake, we are inherent bullshitters.