I grew up as one of the few of my friends whose parents weren’t divorced. Sure, my parents fought a lot, and there was a dark period of a few months where Dad slept on the couch every night, even brought is alarm clock out there, would fall asleep to the cable and since the remote didn’t actually turn the TV off, he’d switch it to a dead channel like 999 and let the blank blue screen play all night long. It was rough there, for a while: I was certainly preparing for an inevitable break, for the talk, the sit-down conversation where my sister and I were told that everything we knew was about to be ripped apart, that we would join the bell curve of families on the trash heap who just couldn’t hold it together. I’d hear the fights coming from the living room, my parents somehow still unaware or uncaring that our tiny ranch house carried sound down the small hallway right into my bedroom, and through the heating vents sometimes too.
Somewhere in there, the parents went to some counseling I think, sorted it out, started sharing a bedroom again, and eventually sharing tender moments and what looked like a full, healthy relationship. This was an anomaly among the soul-compacting confines of suburban New Jersey, where it seemed like broken homes were so de rigeur it wasn’t even fair to call them broken homes, they just seemed like the natural evolution of human relationships. You don’t call a kid who moves away to college a “broken” person, after all. Continue reading