Where I Come From
When people ask about me, where I came from, my family. I say they grew grapes, from Michigan. That is all I ever say. No one ever pries further.
What I don’t say is that my dad was a fairly big cocaine dealer. That my mom had a counter full of pills and tried endlessly to drug me. That my step mom lit the living room carpet on fire just because she was upset and this is the madness I came up in.
I don’t say that I stood in-between them while they fought, literally with guns out. There is no relaying the ringing I can still hear in my ears from them shooting the fan blades off while I stood there. People don’t hear how my mom packed us up with a few belongings and left when my dad was locked up yet again. How the FBI let him out to watch him and he bashed my little brothers head wide open over a door frame in front of me and put my grandmother on life support.
The nightmares I had never enter conversations. They were so crippling I didn’t sleep right for years. I woke up screaming in tears. And somehow in all of this madness my father was the better parent. You cannot explain to people in a world that likes to makes sense of things. But it was true. My mothers evil is harder to talk about.
Explaining to folks what being a mediator between two drugged out adults your entire childhood is like, well, you can’t. It is a unique kind of battle zone where you’re ability to read body language and say just the right thing will avert a war.
How Christmas memories included my dad breaking up kilos of coke and flushing them down the toilet, for some reason? Proudly proclaiming “a family that smokes together stays together” and instructing us we were all going to play cards and get high for Christmas. While my stepmom crawled around on the floor with a comb in the carpet looking for little chunks of blow because he cut her off.
And I always forget to mention it was my Dad that laid out my first line for me, gave me my first sack of weed. I’m not sure people would find those endearing family memories. Or how that one time they decided to take us on a family trip to Maine she drugged all of us kids with prescription medications so we would sleep. Not exactly Disney Land.
There are thousands of thoughts that run through my mind when someone asks about where I am from. But the truth is it’s easier to say “they grew grapes”. If you cannot tell I am an extremely different individual without me having to tell you about it, I don’t value your opinions that much anyhow.
I am thankful for the way I came up. It taught me how to love people who are hard to love if they are worth it. It showed me what resilience is. And most importantly it gave me a set of skills that cannot be learned in a book.
And this is the gift “growing grapes” gave me.