Operation Extraction, The Final Chapter

I jumped into WH’s truck in front of baggage claim. We chatted as we drove through our old hometown, pointing out new stores, redesigned intersections, old haunts and memories- good and bad, and a flood of relief that we had a strong boundary between Then and Now. We don’t live with these ghosts, and so there is some comfort in visiting them. We stopped at the grocery store. WH informed me that things were a little tense at the house, and that Dad wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on Operation Extraction. He was afraid of the backlash.

We pulled up to the three bedroom, two bathroom house on a dead end street. My stomach knotted up, as it always does. I took a deep breath and remembered; Then and Now. What I Was and What I Am. My Dad was in the garage, making piles of garden tools for WH and I to take home. We hugged and kissed, chatted about nothing. I got up into the attic and got the bags of stuffed animals that Mom can’t seem to part with out for the Kidney Foundation pickup. Then I went in the house.

TEX was all over me the minute I was in the house. He had been drinking and he wanted a hug and he didn’t seem to realize that he hadn’t seen or spoken to me since he started treating my sister like shit. I was nice to him; it was awkward, but I was friendly. My sister would be home from work soon.

My sister’s best friend just moved in with her a week ago. She’s a sweet girl, calm and graceful while a strange family swarms around her, tense and half of us drunk. I chatted with her for a little while, both to suss her out and to establish her as an ally for later on. TEX came in and said that he almost slapped my Dad for trying to steal his tools. I went out to talk to WH about it, and I couldn’t pull him from my Dad in a casual manner. Dad went in the house, and TEX came out, and said something else about my Dad, then walked back into the house as Dad came out.

My sister came home just a few minutes later, and I told her to get a handle on TEX and his attitude. I explained that it was all really weird but that we were being friendly, and how he’d been acting and talking about Dad. She went in the house and he started ranting and raving, and she went off on him about everything- the promises he made and broke, the way he broke up with her, coming back- she called him out, up one side and down the other. He left, screeching his tires and squealing all the way up the street.

WH texted him, asking him to come back and work things out instead of running away. He called WH, and when he started screaming, WH tried to rein him back in. He hurled insults at WH and hung up on him. TEX showed back up just a few minutes later.

I was inside with Baby Sis and her friend. We saw a ball of Dad and TEX go by the back door, scuffling back into the garage. Baby Sis was the first out the door. Dad had TEX in some odd sort of backwards bear hug. Baby Sis jumped on his back. I got Badass put in (he was running a circle around TEX and Dad, barking and snarling and trying to decide who to bite), and got in between them.

Call it luck, call it a lesson learned the first time, call it the will of a man to keep his daughters, but I was able to talk my Dad into going back inside and letting WH and TEX continue yelling at each other in the garage. I found out later that TEX called my Dad a lying sack of shit and then tried to stroll into the house. I calmed my Dad down, at least to the point that he could start drinking again, and ventured out into the driveway. WH and I took turns telling TEX exactly what we thought of the situation. TEX yelled and swore and didn’t say much of anything except calling names and babbling about- get this- the commitments that had been made to him and left unfulfilled.

Three hours later, TEX left for the night, at least, peaceably, with some trashbags stuffed with clothes. Daddy got drunk enough to irritate us for sticking up for him and passed out. Baby Sis, WH, and Baby Sis’s friend and I stayed up till two or three, talking about the night, and the night that came before it, and the house, and all the pain, and all the joy, but mostly the pain. We talked about life and love and duty and acceptance and forgiveness.

We got up the next morning and went out for pancakes, as pancakes are a good cure for drama exhaustion, and then came back to the house, on a dead end street, to pack our things. I called my Mom, and gave her the best of the details I could, and got rid of her as quickly as I could. My sister and I said goodbye, we had a few hugs- not just one, and I almost got her and WH to hug. When we pulled out of the driveway, the knots came out of my stomach.

My Dad told us that my sister talked him into letting TEX come back, but that he’ll be emptying out the house this summer to list it on the market- again- in hopes that they can finally be rid of it. He gave us some gas money for our trip home. We thanked him for the yard tools- sorely needed and very timely. We dropped my Dad off at the airport on our way out of town. I jumped out of the trunk to give him a big hug and a kiss. I smelled that familiar breath- of coffee, and cigarettes, and yes, liquor. I tried not to notice that the silver has almost completely overtaken his once black hair.

WH and I hardly spoke on the way home. We were both exhausted, and he was reeling from the loss of his friendship with TEX, as a bad side effect of the previous night. As we climbed those first few ridges, one of many, many ridges that draw the boundary- that separate Then from Now, and Who We Were and Who Were Are, my breath grew deep and slow. My heart slowed to a crawl. The temperature dropped ten degrees, and it started to rain. I turned my heated seat on, and laid back in my seat. The rain will wash us clean of memories, I thought sleepily. The rain, and the ride, and the mountains- the peaks and valleys and gaps and the switchbacks, they take it all away. Like a time machine.

We arrive at home during a break in the rain. Emptying out the bed of the truck into the basement is all we can bear. When we are done, we come right into the house and go right to bed, sleeping wound up in each other, silently so grateful for Now, whatever challenges it holds.

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3 Responses

  1. Wow. Although I haven’t gone through anything quite like this, I can relate very much to your description of leaving your old home and driving to where you live now. I feel exactly like that. Leaving all my bad memories behind, and the ‘old me’. Driving through the hills and being able to breathe again.

  2. Sounds like you accomplished some of what you started out to do. That is good, hopefully sis will take it to the next level and really free herself.

    Love the description of driving home. 🙂 Very nice.

  3. holy shit

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