You’re Missing


I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy, even though everything is fine.  I’ve had this Springsteen song going through the back of my head as it gets colder and Fall creeps in, so I’m doing my best to shake it off like the nonsense it is.  This time of year always makes me restless that I’m running out of time and losing prescious minutes that will never come again.

So, background:  I left my home in 1985 because my Mom had a rule that everyone had to be out of the house by 25.

While I lived there, I paid rent (once high school was done, and I wasn’t a full time student).  I paid $30 a week – $120 to $150 a month, depending on the number of weeks in the month.  I also negotiated to pay my mother more each week in rent as I understood the purpose of the exercise (to avoid homelessness and prioritize my income to be able to afford my life’s responsibilities and make a plan for my future) and I found Mom was under-charging me compared to what I’d have to pay in reality once I moved out.

Nothing that I looked at for moving out was up to Betty’s standards.  After a number of frustrating attempts to find an acceptible place, I decided to break out on my own and move to California to see if my life would be better here.

$280 a month to live in a Winniebago in the back yard of a wealthy drunk, but it was mine and I loved sleeping and waking in the wilds of Portola Valley, with deer and bunnies running through the horse paddocks.  Plus fog, sunshiney rainbows and pouring rain vs. snow in the Winter.  It was good, and it freed my soul to become who I wanted to be.

That being said, though,I am grateful every day that I moved at a time when phones and planes existed, because it allowed me to call and visit as much as I could afford to do, despite my crazy choice to leave everything I knew and strike out on my own, far from Betty’s loving arms.  (I was her “precious”, which made our loving co-dependency something that needed shaking up in order for us both to accept that I was mature and responsible for my own mistakes and good choices, far from her loving, and sometimes crippling, support).  Moving evolved our relationship into something more than I ever thought it could be.  I still miss our Friday night conversations.  (We’d talk all the time, off and on during the week as a thought struck either of us, but Fridays were a guaranteed time to chat for an hour).

I am thankful every day over the training Betty gave her kids about priorities for home training.  It’s truly helped me enjoy exploring this world and make my own choices to highlight travel adventures and experiences over amassing too much stuff, as there are no do-overs in life and you can’t take it with you.

Along the way, though, I have made some hard choices that have slowly cut me off from my family.  Absence truly DOESN’T make the heart grow fonder when you’re not there for the daily grind, the boring stuff, the hard choices or the young explorations into a larger life.

While I can’t point to a clear cut answer for why my extended family isn’t a part of my life in a meaningful way anymore (beyond the known problem with my Baby Sis), it’s sad to see carefully nurtured long-distance relationships ignored and / or abandoned.

I don’t know if it’s because they are guys, and society is more lax in demanding they carry their social obligations themselves.

I don’t know if it’s because of earlier choices in who to align with among family members for moving forward when picking boundary lines… whatever it is, it’s still something that leaves my heart echoing with the silence and emptiness for missing people I feel are key members of my immediate family.

As a highlight to this issue, and to illustrate how truly petty my feelings are,  I didn’t get a single birthday wish from any of my nephews on FB. Yes, I know it’s ridiculous to be bent out of shape, but is it really that hard to see the notification and NOT simply pile on with a generic “happy birthday”?

I am grateful that my niece-in-law wished me a FB happy birthday, but I am not at all happy to be ignored by her husband and the other boys.  Her effort does not mean # 1 is off the hook for his own manners and social mores.

Especially significant, though, is the absence of any comment from # 4, with whom I’ve always had a chatty relationship – on or off FB.  A true extrovert, nothing keeps him quiet.  Until this year.

I know life changes things.  I know that the early passing of my Big Brother impacted us all.  For whatever reason, his boys, # 2 and # 3, get a free pass because he’s no longer here and they’ve never been good about manners or FB.

# 1, however, was partially raised by his Grandma, so I know he knows this tiny courtesy is critically important.  Heck, he helped me drive to Massachsetts after Betty fell ill, packing up and shipping out or helping me get rid of my stuff, so I thought we were stronger than time and distance.  It’s sad to see him slipping away, though.

# 4 is more like me, competitive, so he knows what is appropriate, even if he chooses not to do it.  He had Betty’s influence, too, and has always met me half way, even though I’ve lived so far away.  He’s been busy with his life, juggling a successful rock band, east coast appearances and promotional work, plus a day job AND college, so I get it that he’s busy.  I’m just sad to know he’s too busy for even a passing “hello”.

# 5 is an anathema to me.  Mama’s “precious” from the get go, he’s always gone his own way, so I never expected much from him as he never had to do anything more than show up to get credit.  (Not sure if he suffers from extreme social anxiety, or has just found a way to shrug off any social expectations as a talent, but he’s a shy guy, and a manly man, so the threshold has always been very low in his case).  I get it, so he gets a pass, too.

While I’m thrilled all my extended family boys are doing well, it’s sad to see them completely unwilling to shoulder any kind of bare bones social obligation to me, a family member.  And the silence from the two most connected to me, # 1 and # 4, is particularly sad.

I know, I know…  My choice was made long ago to live out here in CA, and to remain single, but it’s a chilly wakeup call that aging and distance hasn’t been kind to weakening familial connections.

Rather than dwell on what’s missing, though, I love them long distance in my heart and just wish they were closer.

We truly are lazy as a family, and I know that I’m just as guilty for making the decision to move all those years ago which brings me to where I am today.  Cut off from my immediate extended family.

To misappropriate Bruce Springsteen’s 9/11 song, “You’re Missing”, this is how it feels.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shirts in the closet, shoes in the hall
Mama’s in the kitchen, baby and all
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you’re missing
Coffee cups on the counter, jackets on the chair
Papers on the doorstep, but you’re not there
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you’re missing
Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you’re missing, you’re missing
You’re missing when I shut out the lights
You’re missing, when I close my eyes
You’re missing, when I see the sun rise
You’re missing
Children are asking if it’s alright
Will you be in our arms tonight?
Morning is morning, the evening falls I got
Too much room in my bed, too many phone calls
How’s everything, everything?
Everything, everything
But you’re missing, you’re missing
God’s drifting in heaven, devil’s in the mailbox
I got dust on my shoes, nothing but teardrops
Songwriters: Bruce Springsteen

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