Looking back on my childhood, as I often do when alone in my father's home - surround as I am by the sparse accoutrement's of my own childhood and the many of my sisters', who are just entering the nitty-gritty part of the teen years (ie. 15-19). I look around and I am amazed at how incredibly different things are for them, sure their mom and our dad also split - but the relationship my dad and his (third) ex-wife maintain is incredible. Because they have stayed close, they live a few blocks apart, there is no inter-provincial travel required and they get to spend equal time with both parents. They also get Vacations.
They go on trips. Nearly every school break is punctuated with a trip somewhere, near or far, familiar or foreign, with mom or dad or both (or sometimes neither). My trips were nearly always the same, school would let out, I would fly to Vancouver, sit around bored while my father worked, up until the year I started making friends. That year I also started drinking and smoking in earnest, the latter was an easy way to meet people, the former an easy way to get over my fear of talking to people (this had not so much to do with my father, it was happening at "home" too).
I wasn't an easy kid, I was a surly, smart-assed, emotionally needy kid that my dad and his wife barely knew. I didn't like hiking or doing anything that made me sweat (because it made me feel fat), nature bored me, as did things like "going for drives" - I also didn't like his wife, through no fault of her own, she just seemed to take all the fun out of my infrequent visits to my dad simply by being there. Before her, going to see my dad was the one time I felt brilliant and special and, yes, spoiled. She brought us both back to earth and for that I resented her.
Later in life I feel badly, I know I need to find the words one day to apologise to her. I want to tell her that she is raising two of the most wonderful young women I have ever met, I want to tell her I know she tried, I want to tell her how sorry I am I never gave her a chance... I wish I had. She has been in my life for nearly 20 years and I don't know how to get over that kind of baggage. Hell, I don't know how to get over most of my baggage - thankfully most of it fits nicely in the closet where I can ignore it until that fateful day it comes crashing down on my head. It is out of the way, for now, and I will get through it eventually.
I don't like looking back, it makes me ask impossible questions "what would I be like if...?" "would I be more successful... stable... rich... happy... thin?" I hate those questions because they always imply a trade "would I trade it all for that chance?" That is a question I want to answer with a resounding NO, but when things are though, when putting food on the table means stretching our last pennies and hoping against hope that nothing serious comes up before next Friday, when I think about my un-chased dreams and un-used potential, when I am hormonal and achy and scared about the future, I don't feel a NO - I feel a big, fat, empty question mark, and I feel sad.
Thankfully I don't have a choice, my path is behind me and there's no way to change how I got here - but here I am with nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other.