“A Distinctly American Childhood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 2

My dad was a good dad, an American dad. And if I didn’t say so succinctly then this story would be horribly incomplete. I had parents who stayed married, I lived among good people, I was put through academically and financially quality schools, and I always had enough to eat, clean clothing to wear, and a solid middle class roof over my head. Despite all of it, all that two American parents might hope and be promised for their child, by the time they had raised me, by the time I had graduated high school with honors, my conclusion was that the America I had experienced wasn’t worth living in.

The goodness wasn’t nearly as good as it seemed. My world had so often shifted between caring and providing for me and crushing and rejecting me that it was a fluctuating nightmare, enough to incite madness. I came to feel that one of us had to go, and as far as I could help it I didn’t want it to be me; but even in trying to leave its painful parts behind I would have to leave behind a part of myself. This is the tragedy of trauma, that it cannot simply be forgotten as some might like it to be. The memories of who we are remain inextricably tangled up in the persons, places and things of our past. It is a crime when these are woven together with rejections of our identity.