Autobiography – Part Six

Posted by dean balog on Feb 3, 2010 in Uncategorized |

In true chronological order, it would be time to write about coming back to Northeastern Ohio in the spring of ’79.

The problem with chronological storytelling is that you have to try to cover everything, especially things that only make sense much later in the story. Unfortunately, this story started with me at 18, so…

As you’re growing up, “normal” is nothing more than what you grow up with. For instance, you believe your parents must be normal. They’re grownups. As you get older, your teenage years, you start wondering just how “normal’ they might be. In most cases, once you hit adulthood you start having those “Ah-ha” moments when what your parents did suddenly makes sense.

Then again, maybe not.

I’m going to make the wild assumption that most of you reading this never knew my mother. Looking through who might read this, there might be couple who met her.

Back in high school, most folks thought my mother was interesting. People I brought home thought she was cool. Mom was into astrology, numerology, palm reading. She was into many different conspiracy theories. Mom loved to talk. She loved to talk to anyone and everyone. Mom wasn’t really like most of the other Moms I ran into.

Mom also believed my father was spying on us from small airplanes flying over Chippewa Lake. She pretty much convinced our stepfather of that one.

My sister Denise and I knew Mom wasn’t quite normal.

During my senior year of high school, I’d roll in late on a Friday or Saturday night to find Mom sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking Belaire cigarettes. It would be 2 or 3 a.m. She wasn’t waiting up for me. She wasn’t there to bawl me out for being out so late. Mom was just there. I’d come into the room, she be all smiles and offer me a cup of coffee, which I never drank at the time (though she never seemed to recall that). Mom would then launch into telling about everything. She’d tell me about the neighbors, a TV show she’d watched, something she found looking at my sister’s star chart, friends she and my father had 25 years earlier. She tell me all that, at the same time. Mom had five or six conversational threads going at once. And she always used pronouns. It was always he, she, they, us. She’d only give names at the start.

Let that settle in for a moment. Now imagine it at 2:30 a.m. Imagine it while being stoned.

I actually learned how to follow it. I learned how to jump from one subject to an entirely unrelated topic, back to the first one, and on to another. I learned how to put the pattern together. AND I found out that if I’d missed the name of “he’ or “she”, if I waited long enough, Mom would start the story over.

Those conversations would last until the sun came up.

So, why do I bring this up now? Well, one of the reasons I came back to Cleveland was that Mom finally went off the reservation. After decades of keeping it together in public, Mom flipped out.

That was a big reason for coming back. it wasn’t really the big reason for staying though.

I’ll tell you about Mary next time.

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