I was five years old at the time, and still remember stealing my dad's pillow from what was once my parent's bed and holding it against my face to inhale my dad's fatherly scent, while I hid in the closet under our staircase.
I've learned since then that everyone has an interesting story about their parent's history, and sometimes I find that it's my story that's the interesting one, especially when I talk to people whose parents NEVER divorced and NEVER hated each other (can you imagine??!). I must admit that boggles my mind just a little to hear. To those fellow children of divorcees, every little nuance of our situations effects the way we'll grow up and love, ourselves.
Did you father leave, only to be heard from a few times a year via awkward and increasingly unwanted phone calls? Did your parents remarry and were you swept into a world of unfamiliar extended step-families and half-siblings who you cautiously loved but couldn't overcome your animosity for? Tell me in the comments. I really want to know.
For me, the divorce of my parents meant one thing: road trips with my father.
With an RV one trip, a mini van and extensive camping equipment the next, we explored California and the Pacific Northwest while my father's one, beloved cassette (an old copy of Paul Simon's Graceland) blared from the tape deck. Every other weekend and for a few week's at a time during the summer, the four of us (my dad and my older brother and sister) became unshowered, rugged, sometimes crabby adventurers.
Looking at the photos now, I realize how stressful this must have been for my dad. Not just having three young, admittedly rambunctious kids to take care of on those long trips, but to be newly divorced and trying his best to maintain a somewhat normal relationship with his children. To not have it mirror the so-called relationship he had had with his own father after his parent's divorce.
To make memories with them that they would remember as adults and use as a testament to the fact that their father cared and wanted to be there, wanted them to remain happy and carefree despite the newly in-turmoil family life.
These trips we took helped shape me into the curious, tom-boyish, adventurous person I became. I learned how to play poker over a propane lantern, I know how to set up a tent on my own, the best way to barbecue chicken and perfectly crisp a marshmallow over an open fire, and how to entertain myself without access to a T.V. and on long trips (answer: boardgames and Barbies, and playing "I wonder who lives there" at the passing houses).
There were some awful moments (like almost drowning in the Colorado rapids or that soggy egg roll that gave me food poisoning), some really cool experiences (such as my first trip to San Francisco and the sushi-boat restaurant that seriously blew my mind), and a couple pretty but temporary women my father would introduce us to (always as his "lady friend", never his girlfriend).
I guess my favorite part though, is that I got to share all these experiences with my siblings who, aside from a trip I wouldn't go on after seeing the movie La Bamba and adamantly refusing to fly in an airplane, were my companions and best friends on all these trips. I'm sure my dad is happy about this fact...and also that I still adore Paul Simon's Graceland.