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Erin Go Bragh

16 Mar

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and this afternoon I will leave the calm of Atlanta to join my family in the green giddiness of Savannah.

The day starts (painfully) early — we have to be ready to leave by 6:30 — with Mass (we’ll just ignore the fact that neither me nor my brother are actually Catholic). Then, there is the parade, the biggest food and alcohol spread I have ever seen, bars, more beer and plenty of basketball. All with friends and family galore.

I think it’s going to be a good day.

Susie and me in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day 2008.

“Rule Number Three: Observe the high holidays — St. Patrick’s Day and the day of the Georgia-Florida football game. Savannah has the third- second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in America. People come from all of the South to see it. Businesses close for the day, except for bars and restaurants, and the drinking starts at about 6 a.m.”
— “Joe Odom,” John Berendt, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”

A Little Bit of Truth

12 Jul

A few months ago, Leanne and I went to see the Benjy Davis Project, one of those awesome, perpetually underground-ish bands that always feels like your personal discovery. Unexpectedly, the band that opened for them was great too. Southern, a mix of rock and folksy, with a touch of country, the songs struck me, so I immediately went home and iTunes-ed the hell out of them.

I like practically all of Sequoyah Prep School’s music, but one of my favorite songs — one that I cannot ever resist when it pops up on shuffle and have put on virtually every playlist created since April — is “Old #4.”

The chorus contains one of those slices of lyrical wisdom I crave and adore in my music — strikingly simple, yet somehow profound — and I have quoted it multiple times:

“Life gets hard, and life gets tough /
Sometimes you gotta find /
A little bit of truth amongst all the lies /
And know everything will be alright /
I know everything will be alright.”

While preparing for my annual Fourth of July family reunion trip, I made a supportive playlist I knew I would lean on while trying not to scream and curse at my dad, almost-stepmom or any other member of my extended family. “Old #4” made the cut. And then the trip made the chorus jump out at me even more than it already had.

My parents have officially been divorced for 10 years. The split holidays, money fighting, every-other-weekend plans have been a large and cumbersome part of my life since then. (Before then, really). They aren’t fun, but you get used to them. What I never expected was to discover, on a very regular basis, how severely that divorce has shaped me. It may not be the sole reason for most of my neurosis, but it is definitely a contributing factor.

It’s why I’m skeptical of marriage. It’s why I’m terrified of boyfriends’ mothers. It’s why I am as fiercely independent as I am and perpetually distrusting that a boy will be there when he says he will.

None of this is to say my dad is bad guy. He’s nowhere close. He’s an exceptional, wonderful father to be sure. But he’s not good with emotions. Or standing up to his parents for his significant other. Or, at least, he wasn’t with my mom.

Dad has grown in the last 10 years though. The bad part? In my mind, the only beneficiary of this changed man who is protective and affectionate and loving is his girlfriend of the last 6 years. (And maybe her daughters, too.) And going to the beach every Fouth inevitably brings back memories and feelings of how my mom used to be treated, the vastly different way his girlfriend is treated and the way I still feel like the motherless, alone girl, despite the fact that I graduated from college, got a job and am a full-grown legitimate adult. (What an awful, shivering sentence.)

Naturally, my dad is oblivious to how I feel. And I’ve never had the courage to call him out on it before. This year, though, in addition to pre-trip drama, lies and off-color remarks and even more off-color actions finally forced me into a tearful, final-night walk on the beach with my dad.

I can’t express how good it felt to get years worth of angst off of my chest. But that’s to be expected. Here’s the surprising little bit of truth I found:

I didn’t want or need anything else to come of that conversation (or trip, for that matter) other than for my dad to really hear me. The whole time I was stewing, I held some anxiety that the solution to my issues would be the dissolution of my dad’s romantic relationship. Or that I would never be 100% comfortable with any girlfriend he had. Or that I would never *really* be over my parents divorce. And while, I will no doubt continue to find ways my parents’ (failure at) marriage (and subsequent relationships) affected me, I know that they are happier apart and in other relationships. These relationships.

I realized, underneath all the other unresolved issues and pent-up emotions, all I really want is for my parents to be happy, and all I need from them is their love and respect. None of the other crap matters.

In other words, I found A little bit of truth amongst all the lies, and y’know what? I know everything will be alright.