November 27, 2016 — Being a single parent has so many benefits: I get to make day-to-day lifestyle decisions on my own. My kids have a more intimate relationship with me (one-on-one) and are learning to be independent. They see me clearly handling the household chores, so they pitch-in. They appreciate.
The drawbacks to single parenting, however, can be huge — take travel for example. Me & three kids at the airport for the Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota. There’s no sitting down. There’s no reading on the plane. There’s nothing but keeping my eyes on three moving targets until we jump into my dad’s waiting car.
We drive for two hours to get to my parent’s lake house. My dad is exhausted. Their house is adorable and we park our stuff in a smaller guest house. My grandmother is visiting from Kansas. There’s tons of snow and the kids go crazy, playing for hours in it.
All the snow:
I text my sister-in-law: “bring more booze.” She and my brother decide to head up early (thankfully because I’m sensitive as hell and walking on eggshells). I FaceTime with Mario for a bit. He’s trying to work through the long weekend.
Meanwhile, I have coffee with my grandmother. She’s in her 90s. She’s on an iPad. Back when my grandmother divorced my grandpa, divorce was considered “distasteful.” She had three kids and enough of my grandpa’s alcoholic tendencies.
After moving from Kansas back to her home-state of Maine, grandma marries my grandpa Richard who promised not to move her back to Kansas. But then dude moves them right back to Kansas (she was not pleased, but they otherwise had a long marriage).
In her 40s, my grandmother goes back to college, and graduates at the top of her class (despite Richard’s discouragement and insistence she didn’t need school). Then she works as a school-teacher for 20 years, gets a pension and retires. After Richard passes away (he really was a lovely man in many ways), she’s alone for years until she meets an old flame. In her 80s she marries a third time. Her husband recently passes and now she’s back to traveling solo.
My grandmother has always been proof positive to me that women are fierce. As I write this the Stevie Wonder song, I Just Called To Say I Love You, comes on. My grandmother had this record when I was a kid. #memories
She looks up from the news on her iPad. “Mr. Trump is considering appointing Ben Carson to his cabinet. He’s such a nice man,” she says. I spit my coffee involuntarily from my mouth in a coughing fit. WTH grandma?! I bite my tongue. I walk into the kitchen and finish off the last two fingers of scotch in the house. #shattered. It’s 9am. Happy. Fucking. Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, I know my mom senses my emotional distance. My dad sees my tattoo and reels a bit. My mom arranges for us to all attend a nearby town’s winter festival and see Santa. The kids have a blast climbing up piles of snow made from the town’s effort to clear sidewalks for the event. Kids play (they hate Santa BTW). Folks drink cider and eat fried cheese curds (it’s a Minnesota thing).
At the festival, I see an old fortune-teller booth. It’s offensive. Right now Native Americans are being sprayed with water-cannons because they want clean water. The “Indian” wants out of the box. Me too. I give him a dollar.
The fortune — well, he’s good, I’ll give him that:
Thank you “Medicine man.” SMH. Finally, an announcement comes on the loud-speakers about keeping the town liter-free and “Norman Rockwell-esque.” I look around and it hits me: everyone is white. There are no minorities to be seen of any color anywhere (except the wooden guy in the booth). I know this is my white privilege: I don’t feel my race until faced with shit like this. The town is creeping me out.
Maybe only white people are crazy enough to brave this winter weather? No. Because, Detroit. How could I ever bring Mario — who literally would make this town multi-ethic — to this white wash? He jokes with me about it. We talk about racism and he tells me about his life experiences. He always feels his skin, his eyes, his hair. I always feel my sex, but not my skin. What do white men feel? I buy more scotch.
I realize I’ve become a New Yorker. I can’t wait to get home. On the plane the kids fall asleep and I relax. The landing turns bumpy. Suddenly my 8-year-old starts screaming. My 6-year-old is puking everywhere. Great. Welcome back to New York.