It’s the 1980-1981 school year. Mount St. Helens erupts. The Rubik’s Cube craze spreads to my corner of the world and I discover the pleasure of puzzling over one. Adults won’t shut up about “Who shot J.R.” Pac-Man fever is sweeping the country. I’m in fourth grade.
Things are not going well for me.
I’ve struggled a great deal with what to say about this time period. This is a very ugly stretch in my life. I don’t want this series to be a chore to read. I don’t want this to deteriorate into a long screed of complaints and self-pity.
I could skip these events, but that would leave a curious and continuity-breaking hole in my life. I could be explicit, but that would involve a lot of ugly stories that would, I think, be unfair to the adults in my family, and my mother in particular. The only way to avoid making her look like the bad guy would be to tell the whole story, which would be incredibly long, bleak, and not terribly compelling.
Here is the best I can do:
Some adults entered our lives who were no good for us. As a result, my brother and I ended up spending a lot of time under the care and influence of some very rotten people. Just to assuage your worst fears: I wasn’t seriously beaten, I wasn’t molested, nobody died. Nobody gave me illegal drugs. (Although given the witches’ brew of prescription medication I was on, I was arguably higher than the adults in my life.) This isn’t anything that serious. This was a time of neglect, not abuse. Lots of people had home lives that were far more dangerous than the one I knew in these years. But it was rough, and it hit me in an area where I had very few coping mechanisms.
So instead of belaboring things in a litany of complaint, I’ll just pick through the anecdotes of the time and we can move on. Sound good?
I feel like I have very little control over my life. I don’t decide where I go, what I do, what I eat, or who I associate with. This is normal for kids, but it doesn’t feel normal to me.